The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

May 9, 2013

Ashtabula County highway crew helps ODOT receive national recognition


Ashtabula County’s ability to keep state highways and Interstate 90 as passable as possible during winter storms helped Ohio win a national award, officials said Wednesday.

The Ohio Department of Transportation recently received the Excellence in Snow and Ice Control from the American Public Works Association. The accolade probably wouldn’t have happened without innovations pioneered in Ashtabula County, Justin Chesnic, ODOT District 4 spokesman, said Wednesday.

“(The county) is the snow capital of Ohio,” he said. “A big part of why we won the award is because of what they do up here.”

A handful of ODOT officials came to the county outpost on Seven Hills Road in Plymouth Township to discuss the award and its impact.

Technology, practices and equipment used by state highway crews in the county was noted by the state in its award application to the APWA. One such item is the massive tow plow in use locally for the past three winters. The big machine is pulled behind a traditional plow truck, and allows one operator to clean two lanes at once.

Only one tow plow is in ODOT’s fleet, and it’s used exclusively in Ashtabula County. The machine now logs around 5,000 miles a season.

Two more are planned for other parts of District 4, which also includes Mahoning, Trumbull, Portage, Stark and Summit counties, officials said. “Ashtabula took the lead and proved (the plow) works,” said Frank Howell, transportation manager.

The state also noted the use of cornrow fences in parts of the county was another big factor, Chesnic said. ODOT has made arrangements with some farmers to let stand several rows of corn that adjoin highways. The corn stalks serve as a natural snow fence that help keep snow from blowing onto roads. Corn rows “barriers” are in use in several areas, including sections of routes 534, 6 and 7.

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