The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

October 18, 2013

ODOT getting ready for winter season

Star Beacon


Snow plow drivers assigned to Ohio Department of Transportation’s District 4 terminal on Seven Hills Road met Thursday to prepare for the winter weather ahead.

The fleet of massive snow plows was inspected and plow drivers schooled on new techniques.

“They’re in snow and ice school today,” said Justin Chesnic, District 4 spokesman. “They are double-checking everything.”

The county has 30 snow- and ice-fighting vehicles at its disposal, including use of District 4’s three “monster tow plows,” he said.

As usual, Ashtabula County was No. 1 in District 4 winter categories. Last year, we saw 10 feet of snow, about twice as much as the other five counties (Mahoning, Portage, Stark, Summit and Trumbull) that make up the district. The county also was the leader in tons of salt (44,200) used and gallons of brine (543,144).

“Ashtabula always gets the most snow,” Chesnic said.

More snow and ice, along with more lanes to clear, means more material needed to keep the roadways clean.

Last year was the first time ODOT gave salt companies the option to bid on entire districts instead of individual counties. ODOT and hundreds of local governments will pay a statewide average of $35.83 per ton of road salt this winter, compared to the statewide average of $54.02 paid per ton two years ago. The difference is $20 million in savings this winter.

Also new last winter were new lights for highway vehicles aimed at increasing visibility. Part of the state fleet, including some vehicles in Ashtabula County, boast new green strobe lights in addition to the usual amber and white lights.

The lights are meant to reduce accidents, Chesnic said.

Ohio has four times the rear-end collisions than neighboring states, statistics show.

In April, ODOT received national recognition for excellence in snow and ice control by the American Public Works Association. ODOT was the only state department in the country to receive the distinguished honor.

The APWA said ODOT was selected for the award because of the agency’s high standard of service for snow and ice removal on 43,000 miles of highways, 1,600 snow plows, 3,000 employees, and more than 650,000 tons of salt stored at 200 locations around the state.