DOT, plow operators touch base before winter

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation met Friday with its contracted snow plow operators to prepare for the winter weather ahead.

Michael Dobridnia is a plow truck driver contracted by the state Department of Transportation. While winter means extra money for him, but it's also a lot more work.

"It's a lot more strainful for the guys. A lot more hours, and you can't pick when you work. The snow comes when it comes and then you have to work," Dobridnia said.

Despite the fact that snow plows are still locked up at the DOT's headquarters, it's all the employees can talk about.

They want to be ready when winter arrives.

"Prepare for the winter, talk about head of the storm on a nice sunny day in October as opposed to trying to put a plan together as the snow is about to fall down," said RIDOT's Joe Baker.

Because of budget constraints, the DOT hasn't been able to purchase new trucks in the past few years. But this year, because of the money they saved on salt, it will be adding seven more.

"Salt can represent about two-thirds of our winter budget," Baker said.

Savings on salt came from new technology the DOT put on its trucks last winter. It's called a closed loop system.

"It basically lets the state and the vendor know how much salt is being dispensed and where it's being dispensed. It uses GPS technology," Baker said.

With the Old Farmer's Almanac predicting a colder and snowier than usual winter season, it might not be long before the DOT's new trucks are out on the roads.