Long before the weather forecasters issue winter’s first snow alert, County Engineer Paul Gruner, P.E., P.S., and his staff have filled the salt bins and completed preventive maintenance on County trucks.
During the fall, Engineer’s Office employees spent time examining plows to check for cracks in welds, adjusting salt spreaders and spinners, plus replacing hoses and bearings. In the event snow is in the forecast, plows are ready to be quickly mounted on the trucks for the 20 snow routes that the staff has laid out.
Gruner said his office is responsible for 320 miles of County roads, which translates into approximately 800 lane miles to keep clear.
The goal is to keep roads drivable, but not necessarily snow- and ice-free, at all times. County road crews will work to keep roads passable until a snowstorm’s end. Snow drifting often requires plowing and deicing long after a storm has ended.
The County re-supplies trucks with salt at 5 locations around the county, some at other jurisdictions where there are cooperative agreements.
Gruner said motorists should be aware that applying salt to roadways is not as effective when the temperatures drops below 16 degrees, so slow down and be even more cautious as the temperature drops to increase your safety. A light snow often reduces traffic speeds from 3% to 13% while heavy snow can reduce speeds from 5% to 40% or more.
Brine, a salt solution, is sometimes applied if the weather is dry before an expected snowstorm. The brine helps eliminate initial freezing of snow on the surface before crews have a chance to get out. Montgomery County has been a leader in the use of beet juice solution applied to salt before or as it is distributed. It helps the salt to stay on the roadway surface and be effective at lower temperatures. Using beet juice and other additives can help keep roads passable at much lower temperatures, but they may still be slippery. In order to reduce the use of salt and save money, Montgomery County has also been using sand, or grits, mixed with salt on lesser traveled roads that do not have curbs and storm sewers.
Inclement weather contributes to an increase in vehicle crashes. According to the Federal Highway Administration, four percent of all vehicle crashes are due to snow and slushy pavement. Icy conditions are responsible for another three percent of crashes.
“Weather-related crashes kill an average of nearly 6,000 people each year on American roads. The Montgomery County Engineer’s Office is working hard to prevent injuries and death on our county roads,” said Gruner.
Ohio’s county engineers are responsible for the maintenance, repair and capital improvements of county highways, roads and bridges in Ohio. County engineers are responsible for 28,971 miles of urban and rural roadways and 26,326 bridges (520 in Montgomery County) that are vital to the combined growth and prosperity here in the state of Ohio. Since 1940, the County Engineers Association of Ohio (CEAO) has worked to unify its members in their goal to provide the highest quality transportation, drainage, surveying and land record keeping services.
For more information about CEAO, please visit ceao.org.