OHIO VALLEY — Throughout the past week, Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) District 10 garages have taken part in the annual “dry run” to prepare for the winter season.
During the week-long event that included stops at each of District 10’s nine county facilities, inspectors completed a 150-point inspection on all winter equipment used by the department in Meigs and Gallia counties.
Meigs County ODOT County Manager John Burdette said the inspections throughout the district are completed by the district headquarters mechanics, allowing them to recognize any patterns of concern between the nine counties in the district.
Burdette added that the dry run serves as a way to get things in shape for the winter and for snow plow drivers and loader operators to get in the mind set of handling snow and ice removal. He added that there is a slim change of flurries as early as next week.
Safety is always ODOT’s biggest concern, and the annual inspections help to alleviate mechanical problems that would otherwise potentially cause threats to public safety, as well as to the safety of the equipment operators.
Jim Kemp, District 10 equipment specialist, stated that the inspectors are looking for any and all equipment deficiencies and are also responsible for checking all fluid levels on the vehicles.
Snow plows are also inspected for any damage from previous years.
Systems are calibrated to control how much of the salt, brine and other materials are distributed on the roadway in an effort to combat snow and ice and clear the way for passenger and commercial vehicles.
“It is better to make sure everything is working properly now instead of waiting for the first snow and ice event,” added Kemp.
In addition to getting the vehicles highway ready, ODOT must be certain to have needed materials on hand, as well as assuring highway technicians are well trained.
According to ODOT District 10 Highway Management Administrator Jamie Hendershot, Gallia County currently has 3,700 tons of salt on hand, while Meigs County has 2,300 tons. Since last winter was relatively mild, the salt usage for the two counties was very low, with 740 tons being used in Gallia County and 750 tons of salt being used in Meigs County.
Hendershot also said that salt cost is down significantly this year in comparison to last year, with Gallia’s cost per ton being reduced from $61.23 to $52.68 and Meigs’ cost falling from $63.60 to $55.87.
Hendershot also said that all highway technicians, whether new to ODOT or veterans of the agency, participate in refresher training prior to the start of snow and ice season.
According to a report by the American Highway Users Alliance, if Ohio’s transportation system were to shut down for one day due to a winter storm, the total economic impact would cause the state to lose more than $300 million in direct and indirect productivity.
If Ohio’s transportation system shut down for even just one day because of snow and ice, Ohio workers could lose out on as much as $200 million in wages and paychecks, according to the report.
The report says snow-related shutdowns affect hourly workers the most. In all, Ohio workers could lose more than $205 million in direct and indirect wages, according to the research. Ohio could also lose vital tax revenue — as much as $11.4 million in state and local taxes, and $15 million in federal taxes — in just one day.
“We feel like we are in really great shape this year,” said Hendershot. “The weather man says snow is possible as early as this week. Motorists can rest assured that ODOT will be ready.”