DES MOINES, Iowa -- January has put Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) plow drivers through the ringer. "The last couple weeks have been pretty hard. The crews and staff in our garage have been working a lot of overtime hours," said Iowa DOT Winter Operations Administrator Craig Bargfrede.
The snow fall totals may have eased up, but with winds as high as 30 mph Tuesday night, Bargfrede says plows continue full speed ahead because danger still exists. "We are seeing a lot of blowing and drifting because the last round of snow we got was light and fluffy snow that continues to blow around and kick around."
That drifting snow ends up on Iowa highways and is now public enemy number one. "If you are going too fast for the conditions and you hit that, it could cause you to lose control of your car and veer into the other lane," said Bargfrede.
The DOT is not without a plan. Bargfrede said, "Drift busting is what they are doing. They're taking care of those pillow drifts [and] trouble spot areas trying to make sure it is safe for the traveling public out there."
On the long, dark, cold nights and early mornings, these "Drift Busters" operate, it is vital to keep your distance. "During these conditions we will kick up, naturally, a snow cloud around us so we reduce visibility even further," said Bargfrede.
To help with visibility issues, this winter season is the first that all Iowa DOT trucks are equipped with three colors of lights: amber, white and blue. "Our amber lights are seen all the way around the truck but the blue and white are only rear facing, so when you see that lighting pattern, that means you are approaching a truck from the rear," Bargfrede said.
It is tireless work for those who ask for patience as they plan to put winter's wrath in our rear view mirrors. "Please have patience. The operators are trying to do the best job possible to create a safe environment for the traveling public," said Bargfrede.