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ODOT readying for winter weather in Harrison County

T-L Photos/CARRI GRAHAM Andrew Goodwin, automotive technician for ODOT, looks at a truck’s engine during the inspection while Chad Kuttie, highway technician, looks on from the driver’s seat.

CADIZ — The Ohio Department of Transportation is ensuring it is prepared to battle snow and ice in the coming winter months by conducting its annual winter readiness check on all its trucks.

Highway technicians and mechanics performed their annual 150-point check on each of the ODOT District 11 garage’s 13 trucks and other vehicles Tuesday morning in Harrison County. Lauren Borell, public information officer for ODOT, said they conduct a full check on every vehicle that deals with snow and ice to make sure there are no issues.

“We check everything from the plows to the headlights. We make sure everything is working in case there are any issues, we can address them now before the winter weather kicks in,” she said. “The weather changes so quickly — last week it was in the 80s and it was 32 degrees this morning (Tuesday). So it’s important that this stuff is ready to go when we need it.”

Borell said the technicians ensure each component of the trucks is in proper working order so if it were to snow, they are ready to get out on the roads.

The “Winter Readiness” inspections are performed in all seven of District 11’s counties — Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Harrison, Holmes, Jefferson and Tuscarawas. ODOT workers are responsible for maintaining, plowing and treating more than 3,000 lane miles of roads in those counties.

The Harrison County garage is responsible for treating 375 lane miles throughout the county every year. There are 13 trucks with employees working two shifts for 24-hour coverage with each driver averaging 38 miles per route.

“Depending on what the conditions are like it might take some time, especially in these rural areas, but they are out there working,” she said.

Last year, more than 7,400 tons of salt were used on its roadways, along with 119,658 gallons of salt brine in Harrison County. Borell said they have 8,000 tons of salt on hand this year. She said they are using more and more brine, a 50-50 mixture of salt and water, now to help pre-treat the roads.

“It really helps to break down the salt, and keeps ice from forming on the roadway,” she said. “… Our crews do a great job of gauging when it’s useful and when it’s not.”

Borell reminds residents to remain aware and give the plows room to work. There were two wrecks involving the district’s plows last year — one in Harrison County and one in Jefferson County. Borell said a driver struck the back of a plow on U.S. 22 in Harrison County, and another wreck occurred on Ohio 646 in Jefferson County when a motorist hit a plow truck head-on. No one was injured in either accident.

“We always want to remind motorists to give the trucks plenty of room to stop. The trucks drive well below the posted speed limit, and that’s to be effective with our material. The trucks are very heavy, and they don’t stop easily, so give yourself plenty of room if you are behind one. Our motto has always been ‘ice and snow, take it slow,'” she said

Borell said people do not realize that the plow truck drivers have their hands full when they are on the roads. She said one of the biggest challenges they face while on the roads is the public.

“Not only are they plowing the road, but they’re watching the road, they’re watching their salt usage, their material usage — all while watching for traffic. There’s a lot going on while they’re out there working. They’re out there doing their jobs — clearing the roads, making them safe and passable — and folks need to remember that. We understand everyone is in a hurry, but they are doing their job,” she said.

Borell said it is also important for motorists to prepare their vehicles by ensuring their tires are good, windshield wipers are in working order, and fluids are filled.

J.D. Marlatt, transportation administrator for District 11 – Harrison County, asks residents to respect the crews as they perform snow and ice activities on the roads.

“We appreciate the public’s cooperation,” he said. “Harrison County takes snow and ice very seriously, and we’re going to do our best to make sure that each and every one of our stakeholders makes it to their destination safe and sound.”

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