Massachusetts Department of Transportation


Winter Driving Safety Tips: Driving with Snow Plows

Driving with Snow Plows

Snow driving is one of the hallmarks of residing in Massachusetts. For some, driving in the snow is the next great adventure, for others, it’s a terrifying experience. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, there’s no denying that snow plows are a lifesaver during a storm. Helping remove snow and ensure safety, snow plows make it possible to get around during the winter months.

Plowing is done according to a hierarchy of importance – small public alleys, side streets and dead ends are the last to be plowed, so be sure to watch out if you live on any of these routes and plan accordingly during storms!

Winter Safety Driving Tips: Driving With Plows

Snow plows can be quite dangerous if you’re unsure how to drive with them. Follow these recommendations for driving with snow plows from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation for safe winter driving:

  • Keep your distance, don’t assume plow drivers can see you. Their field of vision is limited – in addition to the blind spots of a traditional car, the snow that a snow plow stirs up may also limit the driver’s visibility. To be safe, stay 70 feet (4 car lengths) from the plow truck so the driver can see you.
  • Use extreme caution when passing a plow. There are no laws prohibiting drivers from passing a snow plow on the road, but it is extremely dangerous to do so. The wing plow blades of any given truck can extend 2 to 10 feet beyond the width of the truck, and are often hard to see because of the snow they push to the sides while plowing. Sometimes weighing as much as a compact car, you don’t want to hit one of these guys. If you must, snow plows push snow to the right, so avoid passing them on this side.
  • Turn on your lights. See and be seen by keeping your headlights on while driving in the snow.

Following these tips will help you drive safely and soundly around plows this winter, however, accidents do happen especially in winter conditions. If you do get in an accident, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation recommends that you assess the scene – is anyone hurt? Are you stranded? If so, or if if you feel you need to, call 911. If possible, move your vehicle off the road to clear the way for other drivers, and stay in your vehicle – it is safer than being outside during a storm. If it is dark, make sure to keep your light on with the engine running, but make sure to crack a window to keep fresh air circulating through your car – you never know if your exhaust pipe is blocked. If it’s light out, turn off your engine. Keep your circulation moving while you’re in the car by moving around and huddling for warmth, and if need be – make your car visible to rescuers. If you get in accident with another vehicle, make sure to exchange information, including your auto insurance information to settle any damage claims.

Driving in the snow can be dangerous, but sometimes it is necessary. When driving in a storm with plows, keep these tips in mind. Stay safe this winter!

Photo by bbearnes

South Coast Rail Project Moves Forward

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has finalized the legalities with CSX Transportation to gain the rail lines necessary to restore the commuter rail service between the South Coast region and Boston.

“Helping this region realize the promise of South Coast Rail has been our focus since day one… While others have stopped at talking about this project, we are making it happen. This agreement is another important example of our commitment to bringing this project one step closer to reality.”

– Gov. Deval Patrick Governor

Timothy Murray, the Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor, spoke further on the subject that the partnership with CSXTis a major milestone and will be critical to use this investment to leverage future job growth transportation services, and economic development is communities like Taunton, Fall River, and New Bedford. Murray however wasn’t the only one to further discuss the purchase as Senator John Kerry noted this will link the economies, businesses and homes of NewBedford and Fall River with Boston. Kerry continued since 2005 more than $30 million in federal funding was obtained from Congress because this development will be so beneficial to the economy and environment.

Further developments and a major stepping stone crossed by the South Coast Rail was a new request released June 10th for the reconstruction of three rail bridges in New Bedford. This past February  $20 million was awarded to MassDOT by the Obama Administration in competitive TIGER funds to be used in replacing deteriorating railroad bridges. Construction on local bridges will begin in the fall.

For more information about the Patrick-Murray Administration visit: www.mass.gov/governor/agenda.

Massachusetts License Plate Lottery Open!

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation begun accepting application for the 2010 Low Number License Plate Lottery yesterday. Those who enter their names into the drawing are hoping for 179 of the most sought after Massachusetts license plates including: R12, F17 and 55A.

“Every year the plate lottery generates thousands of applicants because all drivers have an equal shot at winning one of these coveted plates… Last year more than six thousand people participated and this year we expect even greater interest.”

– Registrar Rachel Kaprielian.

Applications for the license plate lottery are available in all RMV branches and online at: www.mass.gov/rmv/forms/registration.htm. To be accepted all applications must be postmarked no later than August 9th 2010. Postcard entries, as indicated by MassDOT, will not be accepted. Those who have won the lottery and do not register their vehicles by December 31, 2010 will forfeit their license plates and will be offered to a list of 25 alternative winners who will be chosen during the main drawing.

The lottery winners will be announced at a live drawing at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum Saturday August 28th at 11:00 am. Admission to the museum and the current “Curve Appeal” exhibit will be free to all applicants. For official drawing details and a complete list of the plates up for drawing visit: www.mass.gov/rmv. Lottery winners will be posted on the RMV website Monday, August 30th.

Schedule Your Drivers Exam ONLINE!

The younger tech-savvy generations may fall in love with the newest addition to the Massachusetts RMV site: on-line driver’s exam scheduling. Until last week teenagers were only able schedule a driver’s exam by calling the RMV hot line. These calls annually number approximately 260,000 and greatly slowed the routing of other call-center customers.

Hopeful teen drivers can pay the $20 exam fee while registering and, if they’re feeling confident, the $50 licensing fee eliminating another trip to a Registry branch once they’ve passed the exam. If paid for through the website the teenager’s licnese will be sent through the mail with the learners permit photo. During a two week test period almost 900 permit holders successfully scheduled their driving examinations!

Drivers license exams were previously administered by State Police troopers and as of two years ago are now handled by Registry examiners. About 2,500 road tests are given a week through the 29 Massachusetts examination locations. Serving more than 4.6 million drivers the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles will be able to better service drivers as those scheduling examinations begin to navigate to the website rather than phone hot line.

To schedule a driver’s examination online visit the Massachusetts Department of Transportation site here.

DOT Highway Division – Interview with Luisa Paiewonsky

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation‘s Highway Division was formed from a merger of the Massachusetts Highway Department and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. After the merge Luisa Paiewonsky has overseen the joined organizations and was previously the highway department commissioner. Eric Moskowitz, a reporter of the Boston Globe, has recently interviewed Paiewonsky bringing Massachusetts drivers a better understanding of just what’s happening with our representatives and roads.

Q. What does your job entail?

A. I am responsible for running the state highway system, and the highway division that has jurisdiction over the state highway system. That includes a little over 10,000 lane miles of roads. We have responsibilities for a little under 5,000 bridges, and we have 3,300 employees working from the Berkshires to Cape Cod and the Islands. We are responsible for everything from interstate highways to a number of biking paths, timber bridges, large roads, small roads, everything in between. And that includes not only building and maintaining them but clearing them of snow, cutting the grass, and preserving the bridges.

Q. How much is spent on construction and how much on maintenance?

A. Last year we spent $771 million on construction and we probably spent another $150 million on maintenance. We would always love to spend more on maintenance, because it’s the most efficient way to use the dollars. It buys more service life out of roads and bridges.

Q. I understand that construction spending has more than doubled in the last few years. What are the reasons?

A. The first is Governor Patrick, as one of his first acts in office, greatly expanded our construction budget on the rationale that we had a large number of backed-up projects, and highway construction creates a lot of jobs. So that was a major infusion of dollars into our core program, the Statewide Road and Bridge Program.

About a year and a half later he signed the Accelerated Bridge Program [after the Minnesota bridge collapse]. That gave us $3 billion over eight years to improve the safety and condition of bridges across the state. And then the following year we got almost $450 million in stimulus funds.

Q. What’s something we learned from another state, and how do we rate nationally?

A. The most important measure is that we have the safest roads in the nation [measuring fatalities per vehicle miles traveled], but we’re not even satisfied with that. We want to reduce fatalities even further. We’re just ending a four-year program to reduce fatalities by 20 percent, and we will hit that target at the end of this year, and then we’re going to set a new goal.

Our interstate highways are in the top 12 nationally for pavement condition. We’d like to improve the condition of our other national highway system roads. I think we’re well known for being a multimodal state DOT in that our highway design guide is one of the best in the nation for welcoming bicyclists and pedestrians.

Many people in the Highway Division can’t take a trip on vacation or for business or any other reason without looking at other states’ roads or bringing back ideas.

I noticed traveling up to Maine that they had street signs on overpasses to help drivers know where they were. So we decided to not only add street names to the overpasses but the towns. And that’s a very small investment that provides a large service to millions of people a day.

For the full interview please visit Boston.com.

Massachusetts License Security Lock Down

Brand new Massachusetts driver’s license and ID’s have been released today with increased security features. The new cards have been put into production this week as new drivers and license renewals come through the RMV. The added security measures will help with law enforcement, banks, retailers and liquor establishments in validating the cards.The new license styles include an outline of Massachusetts that gleams when held to light. The old licenses were secured by ghost images of the driver’s picture, a kinegram or metalized optical device and ultraviolet-sensitive inks.

he Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has also required the manufacturer to set up a facility in Massachusetts for quicker delivery and to set up new jobs, the first time in over a decade they were manufactured locally.

Current driver’s licenses, identification cards, commercial driver’s licenses, junior operator and under 21 licenses will remain valid until their next renewal date. The Massachusetts registry expects to distribute approximately 1.4 million of the new cards to customers over the next year. The new licenses will be phased in over the next five years as drivers are required to renew their licenses.

Route 9 Construction Site Now Available

Massachusetts Route 9 is to undergo a 7.8 mile long construction this summer, creating some anxiety for commuters as well as local residents and businesses. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has launched a new website to provide updates on construction, delays and closures. The stretch of Route 9 under construction reaches from Walnut Street in Natick to the Framingham-Southborough line.

The construction project is projected to cost $12.5 million and will be paid for by federal stimulus funds. The construction should focus on resurfacing the roads and improving ramps as well as signs. The project also includes improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists, safety upgrades and drainage work. The first phase of the Route 9 construction is to begin this summer and is to temporarily end this November 19th allowing drivers to get through the area for holiday shopping. Construction will start up again in April 2011 and is expected to be finished June 2011. Select shoulders will be closed this week as construction begins on the Route 9 project.

To access the route 9 website with weekly updates click here.

Patrick-Murray Administration Announces 511

The Patrick-Murray Administration has increased the Massachusetts Department of Transportation efforts to strengthen customer service through online RMV services, the Accelerated Bridge Program, and now with spreading a free 511 service. The next generation of 511 traveler information service, as the press release describes it, is at no cost to the Commonwealth. Mass DOT will is partnering with Sendza, a growing Massachusetts communications software company based in Marlborough to make the 511 travelers information service available May of 2010.

This is the first time 511 traveler information will be available statewide as it was previously only available in eastern Massachusetts. The traveler information will give drivers the ability to automatically receive personalized travel information alerts via e0mail, text, or phone. The partnership with Sendza is of no cost to the state creating a one time savings of $4.1 million and a $1.2 million annual savings for MassDOT. The 511 information service currently handles about 500,000 a month. The Sendza-based 511 system is not only capable of this but holds the capacity for significant growth as the system’s availability spreads.

This partnership is a perfect example of our new transportation reform approach, working to deliver better statewide service to travelers at a reduced cost to taxpayers

-Governor Deval Patrick

July 21, 2000 the Federal Communications Commission designated 511 as the single traffic information telephone number for use by states and local jurisdictions. Traveler information systems have helped reduce travel times, decrease fuel consumption, and reduce the number of accidents. Massachusetts implemented 511 on October 15, 2007 providing real time traffic, transit, weather, and construction. The 511 traveler information is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year.

The new Mass511 system will go live in May 2010. For the latest information, check back at www.mass.gov/511 To learn more about Sendza, visit www.Sendza.com.

Early Success In Historic Accelerated Bridge Program

Early March Governor Deval Patrick visited the Interstate 190 Bridge passing over Route 12 in Worcester emphasizing the quick and early success of the Patrick – Murray Administration’s eight year Accelerated Bridge Program. This program was implemented to reduce the number of structurally deficient bridges in the state while creating construction jobs on the bridge projects. Short of two years the Accelerated Bridge Program has completed 13 bridge projects with 62 additional projects continuing or commencing this next spring and summer.

“Though our administration inherited hundreds of structurally deficient bridges, we have and will continue to make significant investments to repair these bridges through the successful implementation of our Accelerated Bridge Program. By strategically investing in our infrastructure, we will not only improve the safety for our residents, but will also create immediate and needed jobs across the state.”

– Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray

Massachsuetts Department of Transportation has been working with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation to use accelerated state of the art project development and construction techniques. Working together the two departments will complete projects on-time, on-budget and with minimum inconveniences to residents and drivers.

Since the program’s implementation in May of 2008 the number of structurally deficient bridges has decreased more than 9% falling from 543 to 494. An expected minimum of 200 bridge projects will be completed in the eight-year program. Under Patrick’s lead the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has reduced time for construction contract advertisement to construction beginning from 218 days in 2008 to 124 days in 2009. Advanced construction techniques and precast construction have assisted in the faster completion of projects while causing less of a disturbance throughout communities local to construction sites.

Bay State Bike Week Announced!

MassDOT and the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition (MassBike) will be partnering in an effort to make the Bay State Bike Week a state wide event. The two organizations working together hope to reach across the state and involve as many commuters as possible. The Bay State Bike Week will take place May 17 – 21st to promote biking as a safe, economical, healthy and environmentally-friendly activity.

The Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, commonly known as MassBike, promotes a bicycle friendly environment and encourages bicycling for commuting, as a recreational activity and for fitness. The organization was founded all the way back in February of 1977 and knows its way around Massachusetts. MassBike is an important group in regards to legislation as well fighting for bike safety legislation and bicycle friendly communities.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation hopes to encourage biking as an alternative mode of transportation to other pollutant generating ways as well. MassDOT began the Massachusetts Bicycle Transportation Plan in 2008 to promote the activity throughout the state. This piece of legislation provides a listing of existing on and off road bicycle facilities that includes paths, projects in the pipeline, and long term proposals.

To kick off the 2010 Bay State Bike Week already has a website set up at: www.baystatebikeweek.org. Here bikers and prospective participants can find out what the week’s all about and how to get involved.

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