DOT creates snow fences to help keep drivers safe

PORT WASHINGTON (WITI) -- The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is using a tool to help keep drivers safe while battling the whipping winds of winter. It's something you probably pass every day without even noticing.

"Whether it's permanent snow fences or temporary snow fences, we have programs in place for some of our more rural roads," said Mike Pyritz with the Wisconsin DOT.

One fence, built on I-43 near Port Washington a few years ago was a pilot program of sorts, as the structure is much larger than a typical snow fence. The stretch of highway had a history of high winds and drifting snow.

"One of the leading problems that we have with the wind and the snow is creating the black ice on the roadways, so we try to monitor and make the adjustments to keep the roadways just as safe as possible," said Pyritz.

The strategy continues to evolve as the DOT works on creating more natural barriers using plants and bushes to help block winds. Permission from landowners is needed any time fences are built on property not owned by the state.

The DOT says the more snow it can keep from blowing on the road, the less money any municipality will have to spend on snowplowing to get the snow back off the road.