Idaho Snow & Ice Team Takes Top Honors at 2023 Conference

Despite more competitors than ever before, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) took home first-place honors at the 2023 Snow & Ice Conference and National Snow ROADeo for the second time in three years; beating out 300 other maintenance teams participating in the annual contest. ITD’s team also won top honors in 2021 and placed second nationally in 2022.

[Above photo by ITD]

The winning ITD team (above) featured Kyler Fullmer and Stacey McCurdy of District 6 (East Idaho), Jed Henderson of District 1 (North Idaho), and Brandon Steffens of District 5 (Southeast Idaho). They were also the top four finishers in the state’s ROADeo competition held in July in Salmon, ID, and all three were also on the team that won the national title in 2021.

Dan McElhinney. Photo by ITD.

“Winning the overall team award again against 300 competitors from all across the country is impressive,” said ITD Chief Deputy and COO Dan McElhinney in a statement. “We are proud of our ITD maintenance ROADeo team members for their commitment to skill excellence, work zone safety, and representing Idaho as the best in the nation.”

Each event featured loads of competitors, ITD noted, with the single axle truck competition with 53 participants, the Road Grader contest featuring 58, the tandem axle truck with 59, the skid steer loader with 69, and the front-loader event featuring 100 competitors.

“It’s great that we can come together as a team from all different districts to take first place again this year as an agency,” said Henderson, who made his third straight trip to nationals this year. “Everyone performed so well, and I look forward to competing again next year.”

The contest also reflects the winter season preparations now being taken by state departments of transportation across the country.

Photo by the Ohio DOT

For example, the Ohio Department of Transportation recently began conducting safety checks on snowplows and equipment statewide, hiring seasonal drivers and mechanics, as well as topping off salt supplies to ensure it is ready to go when the first hints of winter arrive. The average first day of measurable snow in Ohio ranges from early November in the northern portion of the state to late November for southern Ohio, the agency said.

Around 250 mechanics are busy doing 150-point checks from the plow blade to the salt spinner of each of the more than 1,600 trucks in the agency’s fleet so any needed repairs can be made before the snow starts flying and the trucks hit the road. The Ohio DOT added that it now has more than 776,000 tons of salt on hand.

The Ohio DOT relies on nearly 3,000 drivers who often work 12-hour shifts during snow and ice events. While most are full-time drivers, about 500 drivers are hired seasonally. This team maintains more than 43,000 lane miles of state and U.S. routes outside municipalities and all interstates in Ohio, except the Ohio Turnpike.

In addition to full-time and seasonal drivers, the agency said it also relies extensively on “auxiliary drivers” who are full-time Ohio DOT employees who normally do other tasks and only plow snow on an as-needed basis. “Maintaining Ohio’s highways is a year-round job for Ohio DOT, and it’s never too early for crews to start thinking about winter travel,” said Governor Mike DeWine (R) in a statement. “It takes a great deal of planning and coordination before the snow falls to help ensure that roads stay clear during and after each storm.”

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