DARKE COUNTY — While teachers and their students are dreaming about their first snow day, the Darke County Engineer’s Office has been preparing to keep the county’s roads and bridges safe.
Long before the weather forecasters issue winter’s first snow alert, County Engineer Jim Surber, P.E., P.S., and Shane Coby, Highway Superintendent, have filled the salt storage building, purchased an additional 500 tons of salt, and completed preventive maintenance and inspection on all county trucks and snow equipment.
Recently, County Highway personnel examined plows for cracks in welds, adjusted salt spreaders and spinners, replaced hoses and bearings, and checked and repaired warning lights and safety equipment. Since the end of the construction season, snow plows have or will be mounted on 25 trucks and two graders.
Surber said the department is responsible for over 521 miles of county roads, which translates into 1,042 lane miles to keep clear.
The goal is to keep roads driveable, but not necessarily snow and ice free. County road crews work to keep all roads passable until snowstorms end. Should high winds create sizable snowdrifts, road graders with bigger plows and front-end loaders will be used to clear the drifts.
The county has purchased more than 2,700 tons of salt at a cost of $202,500. About 2,000 tons are stored at the Highway Department on Celina Road. If those supplies run low, another 700 tons can be delivered.
Surber said motorists should be aware that applying salt to roadways lowers the freezing point of water, but in proportion to the saturation of the mixture. Generally, it is effective only when temperatures are above 16 degrees. You should slow down as the temperature drops to increase your safety. A light snow often reduces traffic speeds from three to 13 percent while heavy snow can reduce speeds from five to 40 percent.
Inclement weather contributes to an increase in vehicle crashes. According to the Federal Highway Administration, four percent of all vehicle crashes are due to snow and slushy pavement. Icy conditions are responsible for another three percent of crashes.
“Weather-related crashes kill an average of nearly 6,000 people each year on American roads. The Darke County Engineer’s Office is working hard to minimize injuries and death on our county roads,” said Surber.
Ohio’s county engineers are responsible for the maintenance, repair and capital improvements of county highways and all bridges on county and township roads. County engineers are responsible for 28,971 miles of urban and rural roadways and 26,326 bridges that are vital to the combined growth and prosperity here in the state of Ohio.
Since 1940, the County Engineers Association of Ohio (CEAO) has worked to unify its members in their goal to provide the highest quality transportation, drainage, surveying and land record keeping services.
For more information about CEAO, please visit ceao.org.