DARKE COUNTY — With a foot of snow on the porch, below-zero temperatures overnight, and car windshields glazed over with the trappings of last weekend’s mini-blizzard, Jack Frost is poised to give Ohioans yet another reason to get out their shovels, scrapers, and salt. Yet, when pondering what the Ohio Department of Transportation spends annually on snow removal and supplies to ensure public safety, that $5.99 bag of “Ice Melt” doesn’t seem so bad after all.
According to last year’s state statistics, ODOT annually spends $50 million labor, equipment, and materials, for a total of 40-45 percent of its total operating expense on snow removal for Ohio’s 43,000 miles of highway. Depending on the severity of the weather, ODOT uses between 300,000 and 900,000 tons of salt each winter, with an average yearly usage of 600,000 tons.
ODOT uses a combination of liquid materials and rock salt to treat roadways before, during, and after winter weather events. Treated salt, which is a mixture of standard rock salt and a corrosion-inhibited chloride product, is designed to enhance rock salt performance by improving its effectiveness at low temperatures. Treated salt costs approximately $15 more per ton than standard rock salt, which can add up, depending on the amount used per snow event.
Each county, through coordination with its respective district office, plans and prepares for winter weather, which includes equipment readiness, truck routing, call-out procedures, supplemental drivers, emergency equipment rental, training, and material inventory control. Counties utilize these plans to treat and remove ice and snow from the roadways during winter weather events.
ODOT’s District 7, which serves seven Ohio counties (Auglaize, Champaign, Clark, Darke, Logan, Mercer, Miami, Montgomery and Shelby) maintains its Darke County outpost and maintenance garage, located at 5230, Industrial Way in Greenville, to provide service support for snow and ice removal operations, along with pothole patch and repair, roadside mowing, litter control, and other routine maintenance along state, federal, and interstate highways.
When faced with a major winter weather event with rapid snow and ice accumulation, as Darke County has experienced over the course of the week, residents should be cautious when attempting to travel. Although county roads have been plowed regularly and often, drifting snow can cause roads to become slippery, and residents who live close to State highways and routes should avoid plowing their driveway snow into the road.
ODOT encourages everyone in Darke County to stay safe and take precautions when driving in winter weather. “We are asking drivers to please move over, slow down, and give our crews room to work,” said Tiffany Oliphant, ODOT Public Information Officer, District 7. “Our crews are working in the northern areas in 12-hour shifts.”
Such weather events can often create hazardous road conditions, and public safety is paramount for all who venture out.
“At least 11 crews were hit in the last two weeks, more than we’ve had all of last year,” said Oliphant, “So we are asking drivers to please pay attention, put the distractions down, and watch out for everyone so we can all go home safe.”
Matt Myers, Street Superintendent for the City of Greenville, also advises that residents use caution when approaching the roads. “The snow removal is going well. It can be challenging when we get two snows back-to-back.”
Myers asks residents to avoid shovelling or blowing snow onto the street, as drifting snow can become hazardous very quickly in freezing temperatures. With a 12-person crew operating 11 trucks city-wide, and providing around the clock service, getting the snow off the streets can cause frustration for many. “Our crews plow curb to curb, so if cars are on the side of the road, the plow cannot do its job properly,” said Myers. ” The street still gets cleared, but it creates problems for everyone.”
One problem faced by residents is driveway obstruction due to snow ridges which form when plowing streets. Cars can quickly become immovable by snow mounds formed as a result of plows coming down the streets. If at all possible, residents should find alternate parking until the roads have been cleared.
“Everything depends upon the snow,” said Myers. ” Main routes get done first, with secondary streets next. If you know we’re going to get snow, please try to get your car off the road, if possible.”
For questions or concerns about snow removal in the city, residents may reach Myers by calling 937-548-2215.
Carol Marsh covers community interest stories and handles obituaries for Darke County Media. She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 937-569-4314.