T-DOT well-prepared for winter storm

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Friday's winter weather made for a messy commute for Mid-South drivers.

One area that was of particular concern for many was the new I-40 East Flyover – which is 95 feet off the ground at it's highest point – the tallest flyover in the state.

This was the first winter storm since it opened in late 2015, but T-DOT was well-prepared.

"Mother Nature always wins," said Brandon Akins, Operations District Engineer for T-DOT. "The goal is to get out ahead of it as much as you can."

It takes hundreds of tons of salt, thousands of gallons of brine, dozens of snowplows and salt trucks, and about 80 T-DOT workers to get the roads ready for a winter storm like this.

The department’s first priorities were the interstates and flyovers across Shelby County.

"We came in about midnight to start getting ready for the storm," Akins said. "We started pre-treating yesterday, so we were trying to get out ahead of the storm as much as we could and be prepared for when it got here."

At the T-DOT headquarters in Arlington, salt is piled to the ceiling in two giant bins, massive tanks are filled with around 5,000 gallons of brine – consisting of potato and beet juice, salt, water and calcium – and employees work around the clock to keep the roads clear.

"We have drivers and people who ride with the drivers," Akins said. "They’re out plowing and placing salt and brine as needed. We have a lot of spotters out riding, looking at troubled areas and a lot of coordination goes on."

But even though the snow is finished falling, their work isn’t.

"It will probably take us the rest of the day to clear what we have, and hopefully we’re going to clear that before tonight," Akins said. "If not, then we're prepared to continue working through the night."