Dane County Executive Urges Caution Ahead of Winter Storm Watch this Weekend

December 09, 2016
Stephanie Miller 608-267-8823
County Executive

                Dane County has Added Staff, Upgraded Software and Equipment to Better Plow Roads


Today, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi held a press conference to urge caution as snow is forecasted for the next 4 days. Dane County Public Works Highway and Transportation Department is responsible for clearing snow for 1250 miles of local county roads and is contracted to clear snow for 1300 miles of State Highway in Dane County. Dane County Executive Parisi has invested in new CNG snowplows and Snow Plow Route Optimization Software to increase Dane County’s ability to respond to a snow event while protecting our environment. In 2017, four additional highway staff will be hired.


“Dane County is ready to respond this weekend to make sure the roads are as safe as possible,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “Make sure to give snowplow trucks plenty of room to operate and use caution while driving in these conditions. We want to make sure everyone has a safe weekend.”


For the first year ever, Dane County will be using Snow Plow Route Optimization Software. The software is intended to utilize the resources to increase efficiency of routes and clear more roads faster. The Dane County Highway Department recently updated their snow plow routes to reflect additional highway miles, new garage sites and salt reloading facilities. The Section Optimization Software uses GIS data to route trucks, determine time to plow routes and material needs.


The software showed that two new routes were needed for better coverage of the County and State system. One route was added on I39 and one on the west side of Madison. Based on our first storm of the season last weekend, the new routes appear to be working well. However, different storms can create new challenges. Snow plow operators will be testing the new routes and proofing the computer generated routes throughout this season. The routes can be updated using the software based on snow plow operator comments, additional lane miles, and other changes to facilities. 


Dane County has a total of 60 snowplows, 7 of which are run on compressed natural gas which saves taxpayer dollars. The county’s growing fleet of compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles– a cutting-edge snow plow that runs exclusively on the cheaper, cleaner, fuel added 5 CNG vehicles in 2016. Dane County is the first to pilot the new equipment in Wisconsin. The County Executive also created a road map for conversion of its vehicle fleet to run on CNG by 2023.


 The average county plow consumes 2,400 gallons of diesel fuel per year. The renewable CNG the county generates from decaying garbage at its landfill costs the county the gasoline equivalent of $1.25 a gallon. Because CNG burns so cleanly, natural gas vehicles cost less to maintain as well. CNG vehicles show significantly less engine wear, spark plugs last longer, and oil changes are needed less frequently. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, CNG reduces carbon monoxide by 90 percent, ground-level ozone emissions by 75 percent, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 25 percent. It produces little or no fine particle pollution.


During a snow event:

  •  STAY HOME if possible. If you must travel, slow down and drive with caution.
  •  Leave plenty of space between you and the car in front of you.
  •  Dane County has an excellent staff of professionals plowing, salting, and sanding to make your travel as safe as possible. They are required to work holidays, special family events, and big game days. Appreciate and respect the great work they do.
  •  When you come upon a snowplow, REDUCE YOUR SPEED. The traveling speed of a snowplow truck ranges from only 5 to 35 mph.
  • Don’t follow too closely. Snowplow operators often stop, turn and/or back up – particularly when they are clearing an intersection.
  •  If you are following too closely, the snowplow driver may not be able to see you. Stay 300 feet back from plow trucks. If you cannot see their mirrors, the snow plow operator cannot see you. 
  •  Keep you headlights on at all times when traveling during adverse weather conditions.
  • Try to avoid passing a snowplow. The road ahead of the plow is usually in worse driving
  • condition. If you feel you must pass, do so with extreme caution and be sure
  • you are able to see the road ahead of the plow.
  • Remember to pack your winter survival kit when travelling during adverse winter weather.
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