2010-10-30 / News

ODOT gets ready for win*#%

By Scott Rawdon

An ODOT supervisor checks a snow plow hoist during the Oct. 27 winter ‘dry run’ at District 5 headquarters in Jacksontown. Courtesy photo. An ODOT supervisor checks a snow plow hoist during the Oct. 27 winter ‘dry run’ at District 5 headquarters in Jacksontown. Courtesy photo. JACKSONTOWN- Last winter was one of the snowiest in many years, and this winter is shaping up to be the same. “There’s no chance of running low on salt,” said Rick Williams, highway management administrator for ODOT District 5. “We never ran low of salt.” Tuesday morning, ODOT highway crews had a dry run of preparing plows and vehicles for the snowy days ahead.

Williams said there were never supply issues of salt, although some townships and municipalities ran low last year. He said there was a fundamental change in the way ODOT distributes salt and some places simply didn’t get the memo. Williams said it used to be that any political entity could call ODOT to order salt. As of last year, everyone needed to be under contract. “It’s all taken care of,” he said, including Union Township, which experienced some supply issues last year.

“Last year was unique,” said Williams, meaning it was particularly harsh. “They’re predicting a similar winter-lots of snow and much of it wet snow,” he said, “which is why we’re doing a dry run.”

Crews will continue to pretreat highways with salt brine ahead of predicted storms. “That was one of the best things they (ODOT) ever came out with,” he said. The brine is incredibly cheap – roughly six cents per gallon – and just as incredibly effective. Williams said many people are unaware that salt has no melting effect unless there’s moisture present. “Adding brine makes it work immediately,” he said. Some of the trucks will carry up to 5,000 gallons of brine to apply to highways ahead of snowstorms.

Williams couldn’t resist reciting ODOT’s mantra for this year. “Ice and snow, take it slow,” he said. If everyone slows down just five to 10 miles per hour below the speed limit during snowy weather, lots of property damage, injuries, and even lives could be saved, he said.

He encouraged all motorists to visit BuckeyeTraffic.org regularly this winter to check local driving conditions. Williams expects ODOT crews will experience the same 12-hour or longer days this winter as last year, trying to stay ahead of slippery conditions. “My hat’s off to these drivers,” said Williams.

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