Road crews attack icy, snowy roads

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times Streets Superintendent Todd Stockel shows how salt is mixed with sand for the city’s winter road treatments on Thursday.

Marietta streets crews and the Ohio Department of Transportation are prepared for the frozen fallout of this weekend’s winter storm.

“We prepared more salt mix Thursday,” said Streets Superintendent Todd Stockel. “It’s salt and sand, 50/50 because if you take straight salt it’s good at first but it washes out after four hours.”

Stockel said by mixing in sand tires on city roads also have a better chance of traction in slippery conditions.

“And we have less manpower than the state,” he explained. “They can run 12-hour shifts for three days, we send our guys out on those arterial roads first and get to all we can in the conditions.”

Thus far this winter 200 tons of the mix have been used on city roads, with 400 tons prepared in-house and more a phone call away.

“Last year we hardly used any,” Stockel said. “So we’re prepared for this.”

Ashley Rittenhouse, of Ohio Department of Transportation District 10, said salt mixtures for state, county and regional roads are also ready.

“Snowplows will be on the roads in all nine counties (of District 10 including Washington, Monroe, Morgan and Noble), treating and plowing as needed,” she said. “In total, there are nearly 130 dump trucks and 200 operators ready to tackle 114 routes.”

But Rittenhouse made sure to mention that safety on the roads is also paramount for other drivers as they encounter snowplows, noting that in 2016 statewide 35 plows were hit in vehicular accidents.

“Plows typically travel at slower speeds than other traffic and can make sudden stops and turns,” she said. “They also create a ‘snow cloud’ which can reduce visibility when driving too closely. Please be patient with them.”

Not only are the streets crews involved, public facilities employees like Adam Murphy, 25, of Marietta, have seen early mornings this winter.

“It’s usually about 3 or 3:30 a.m. that we get going plowing the parking lots,” he explained. “You can’t plow through the cars so you want to get there before the commuters come to park.”

Stockel said between his crew and public facilities he believes the salt reserves are sufficient to meet the need this weekend but also hopes that no drivers take unnecessary risks.

“You need to use good judgment in those conditions,” he said.

By the numbers

Washington County road snow and ice mitigation:

This time last year:

¯ 1,862 tons of salt used.

¯ 16,006 gallons of de-icer used.

¯ 24,157 miles driven.

¯ $281,097 total cost.

This winter thus far:

¯ 3,837 tons of salt used.

¯ 44,618 gallons of de-icer used.

¯ 39,269 miles driven.

¯ $424,136 total cost.

Source: Ohio Department of Transportation District 10.