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Snow plow drivers await call to action in northern Arizona

PHOENIX — The season’s first snowfall has already come and gone in northern Arizona, but the bulk of winter weather is yet to come and road workers are ready for the challenge.

George Garcia is among the 450 snow plow operators who drives thousands of miles each winter for the Arizona Department of Transportation.

“So far the weather service says expect a normal winter which means I’m going to be busy,” he said.

Garcia has seen just about everything on the open road during the winter but one thing remains constant: crashes, brought on by people driving too fast for the conditions and tailgaters.

Drivers unprepared for the conditions also is a concern.

ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel said Arizona drivers can leave warm temperatures in the Valley and find themselves driving on ice and snow up north.

“Make sure you have extra blankets, clothing, food, flashlights, water with you. You also need snow tires, tire chains or snow cables,” Nintzel said.

Nintzel said the department spent almost $9 million keeping the roads clear last winter. This year’s budget is between $4 million and $8 million.