Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

Dane County Highway Goes High-Tech Ahead of First Major Winter Storm of Season

December 08, 2009
Joshua Wescott, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606
County Executive

New GIS-Based Technology Improves Emergency Plowing Response, Makes Plowing, Salting Efforts More Efficient

New technology installed in every Dane County Highway truck will make it easier to keep up with major winter storms like the one moving into south central Wisconsin today, County Executive Kathleen Falk said at a news conference at the Highway Garage this morning.

Thanks to Global Information Systems (GIS) technology now installed on every Dane County Highway Department vehicle, the county is better able to respond to emergent snow clearing requests and continuously monitor plowing and salting efforts across the county.

“With the heavy snow and strong winds forecast, should part of a highway become drifted over, we can look at a screen and quickly identify the closest plow to respond and get the road re-opened,” Falk said.  “These high-tech devices also monitor to make sure the right amount of salt is put down and that our plowing efforts are as effective and efficient as they can be in the midst of a major storm.  With the severe conditions forecast, this storm will certainly test this technology.”

Falk recalled an incident from a couple of years ago where an ambulance coming into the county with a child having trouble breathing needed a plow escort to the hospital.  “With this new technology we’ll be able to quickly dispatch the closest plow and get that emergency help where it’s needed,” she added.

The new GIS technology is on board all of the 150 highway department vehicles and thanks to computer software is monitored real-time by highway supervisors at the highway garage. `The technology cost $130,000 to purchase and install - - half was paid for by the state, the other half by funding Falk included in the 2009 county budget.

The Dane County Highway Department has 100 snowplow operators and 58 plows ready to respond to the first big storm of the season.  Snowplow crews will work 14-16 hour shifts in the height of the storm in an effort to keep major highways open and as safe as possible.

The Highway Department clears over 2,500 miles of state and county highways across Dane County.

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