UT Helps Localities Plan Now For Winter Road Hazards (320)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — While Tennessee swelters in the dog days of August, municipal officials are planning for snow and ice removal this winter.

 Don Jones, a University of Tennessee transportation specialist, will lead a workshop Sept. 3-4 in Nashville to help local governments plan and prepare for legal problems related to snow, ice, floods and land slides.

 “The number of legal claims against cities and counties for lack of winter maintenance is rising,” Jones said Thursday. “People have accidents, or they cannot get out in an emergency when roads are not cleaned properly.

 “They are filing more lawsuits and winning.”

 Jones, who recently retired from the university but still conducts workshops for UT-Knoxville’s Transportation Center, said municipalities often do better in liability suits if they have a winter work plan.

 “Now is the time to take preventive steps,” Jones said. “Waiting until winter is too late.”

 Summer maintenance for city and country workers is winding down, offering time between now and September for government officials, engineers and workers to prepare for potential winter problems, he said.

 Workshop topics will include:

 — Draining flood zones that form icy patches on roads.

 — Identifying areas prone to melting snow floods and where power lines and limbs downed by ice can block roads.

 — Prioritizing emergency routes.

 — Communicating with other municipalities to pool resources and equipment and lower costs.

 — Understanding liability issues.

 Jones said he has seen “about everything winter can bring to highway maintenance” in his 37 years of road engineering. East Tennessee’s rugged terrain and unpredictable winter weather makes planning difficult but more important, he said.

 “Budgeting for winter operations is not easy,” Jones said, “but over-budgeting can be reconciled come spring. Being under-prepared can be devastating.

 “The equipment and the know-how is available. Municipalities can no longer sit around and just wait until the ice melts.”

 Information about the workshop is available by calling the UT Transportation Center at 423-974-5255.

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 Contact: Don Jones (423-436-9497)