CTDOT hit by COVID-19, calling in backup to help with first major winter storm of the season

Extreme Weather

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The impending storm has state officials playing defense.

“Unfortunately we’ve been hit hard with COVID,” Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner (CTDOT), Joe Giulietti, said. “We have over 100 employees who have tested positive and double that number are waiting for test results.”

Preparing for the storm means the state is calling in backup: 200 private contractors to help plow roads.

“If all the indicators are right this [storm] could drop 12 to 18 inches on us,” said Commissioner Giulietti.

RELATED: Major snowstorm Wed. night-Thurs. morning; at least a foot of snow predicted for most of the state

CTDOT predicts heavy, steady snowfall will come Wednesday into Thursday. Tuesday a brine mix was put on dry roads to avoid pavement icing up.

“Some roads have that white-blue hue; it sets it up for us when we go forward,” added Commissioner Giuletti.

Officials said 638 state plow drivers are ready. They’ll be covering 11,000 miles of road around Connecticut.

Governor Ned Lamont is monitoring tractor-trailer activity, too.

Those trucks will be delivering more than 32,000 COVID vaccines.

“We’re working hard to track our vaccines as they come in by truck to make sure they can work around the storm,” Lamont said Tuesday.

Governor Lamont advises “stay home stay safe” but if you have to travel Lamont touted a new state website CT Travel Smart.org for regular updates on road conditions.

Lamont said he will be riding out the storm at the residence in Hartford.

RELATED: Are you snowstorm ready? Tips for safe driving if you must go out during this week’s storm

There will also be virtual command center updates from state officials.

CTDOT will also be using — for the first time — a GPS tracking system. Officials said it’s another tool in the toolbox when it comes to battling Mother Nature.

The new system installed in plow trucks will provide drivers information on conditions and recommendations for how to treat roads. Transportation officials say it should allow for more efficient snow clearing.

The GPS tracking system consists of cameras and monitors connected to the latest data.

Paul Rizzo from CTDOT said, “They can input data once stopped safely.”

Rizzo added, depending on what the precipitation is, the driver will be given options to either plow or put down more deicing material.

“Our greatest asset even with all of the gadgets is our people,” added Rizzo.

The GPS system was purchased with the help of a federal grant.

The private contractors who will be helping the state will not have the new system. Instead, state officials will be staying in touch with radios and telephones.

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