BIDWELL — The Ohio Department of Transportation post office on Jackson Pike held its annual winter preparedness meeting Tuesday morning with employees, district representatives and the Ohio State Highway Patrol in anticipation of the coming season’s difficulties.
District 10 representatives paid a visit to the Jackson Pike ODOT garage with technicians and mechanics to inspect vehicles, as well as to discuss rules and new policies with winter crews.
“Ever year, we have winter readiness (meetings),” said Mark Kirkhart, ODOT District 10 transportation administrator. “We refer to it as dry run, like a practice for the upcoming snow and ice. We make sure our trucks in the fleet are greased and functional. We have mechanics from the district garage in Marietta come down and swarm all of our vehicles. (They) started at seven o’clock this morning. They check every nut and bolt, oil, grease seal, hydraulic cylinders and plows. They look for leaks, cracks, bad brakes and anything that would keep the vehicle from being operational in the weather.”
According to Kirkhart, ODOT’s District 10 compromises Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, Vinton and Washington counties. The district has more than 1,200 bridges, 15,000 culverts and 4,000 lane miles of state highway.
“This year, we’re working more with other counties and districts,” Kirkhart said. “In the past, there have been noticeable lines of service. We are going to be endeavoring and planning on having no boundaries (in snow and ice clearance routes). If you’re driving in Gallia County and cross into Jackson County, you won’t notice a difference in the level of service. If needed, we may plow into Jackson County. It’s a managerial process also. We have new radios. We can communicate county to county and district to district.”
Kirkhart and his ODOT associates intend to connect clearing routes with neighboring districts in hopes of having no breaks in clear-road efforts. During the meeting, ODOT officials emphasized safety when operating around plow trucks and to not drive too close behind as stray stones or debris can potentially be kicked up by plows.
According to Shannon Slavin, District 10 makes use of salt, brine and a concoction of beet juice and other chemicals to help fight icing of Ohio roads.
Slavin said local elementary schools will band together in the coming weeks to paint the plows of ice trucks in preparation for the season and in support of ODOT efforts.
OSHP troopers appeared at the morning meeting in support of ODOT efforts. Lt. Max Norris, commander of the OSHP Gallia-Jackson-Meigs post, thanked the employees and explained the importance of ODOT and OSHP partnerships through the winter season, especially during crash investigations.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.