Over the next several weeks, ODOT teams will perform county-by-county Operational Readiness Events — a series of inspections, tests and fine-tuning of equipment aimed at ensuring every snow plow, truck, and spreader is road-ready.
Scioto County will have its readiness event Oct. 29. Similar readiness events will take place in Pike County (Oct. 19), Adams County (Oct. 20), Jackson County (Oct. 21), Ross County (Oct. 22), Brown County (Oct. 26), Highland County (Nov. 3), and Lawrence County (Nov. 4).
According to ODOT, the agency will have more than 1,700 plow trucks and more than 3,000 trained drivers ready to clear ice and snow from the state’s roadways and bridges this season, maintaining nearly 43,000 lane miles of state highway.
To date, snow-melting materials — including more than 697,000 tons of salt — have been stocked at various locations throughout the state in preparation for the 2009-10 winter season. Plow operators and mechanics will be double-checking equipment to make sure it works properly.
On average, ODOT uses approximately 700,000 tons of salt and invests approximately $59 million per year (including labor) on ice and snow control.
“ODOT will be ready to go, before the first snow,” ODOT Director Jolene M. Molitoris said. “Training and preparation in the fall are the keys to keeping our roadways safe throughout the winter. Years of experience and on-going education make ODOT’s drivers some of the best in the nation at keeping roads and bridges safe and passable during even the worst ice and snow conditions.”
Scioto County Engineer Craig Opperman said the county is also preparing for winter weather. The county has already started hauling in its “grits” — riverbed materials mixed with salt to increase traction and help salt supplies last longer and spread further.
“We mix it depending on what kind of snow event we have. If we have heavier snow, we add more salt and less grit, but we still put the grit in there so as you’re waiting for the salt to work that grit material is what gives everybody traction and keeps them on the road,” he said.
Last season’s salt shortage brought higher salt prices — as much as $150 per ton (up from $41 per ton the previous year) — during a time when budgets were already tight. Opperman said prices have fallen back down this year, with bids as low as $64 per ton. The county also participates in a statewide salt co-op program, allowing them to purchase salt for only $56 per ton, including delivery.
The county typically stockpiles as much as 2,000 tons of salt each year.
As the days turn colder and snow clouds gather above, Molitoris reminds motorists to drive slowly on roads covered by snow or ice. For all the latest traffic weather conditions around the state, drivers can visit ODOT’s Web site at BuckeyeTraffic.org.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.