GALLIA COUNTY — While many are preparing for the holiday season by setting up lights or buying gifts, government organizations are bracing for snow.
“We make sure we have material on hand, rock salt and cinder, which is leftover material from power plants,” said Gallia Engineer Brett Boothe. “We’re in good shape with salt for the winter and we’ve already had our snow and ice training class…It’s an opportunity to get everyone back in the mindset to go over safety and answer questions.”
Gallia County has roughly 450 miles of county road to plow and treat and 360 miles of township road, according to its engineer. Around 14 trucks can run 14 plowing routes with four graders skimming gravel roads and one wrecker to pull county vehicles out of poor road conditions when needed.
“We ask for people to be cognizant of snow level emergencies,” said Boothe. “Three, absolutely don’t go out. Two, contact your work and see if they need you to be there, (otherwise) don’t travel. One, you need to be very careful out there.”
Boothe said Gallia County will use roughly 1,000 tons of salt in an average winter and around 8,000 to 10,000 tons of cinder. The county tries to keep around 1,000 tons in backup for salt each season.
“Last year, we didn’t even use anywhere near that,” said Boothe. “But we try to prepare for the worst scenarios.”
Boothe said the engineer will sell material to the townships or villages at whatever the engineer’s office cost is as a courtesy. It does not seek to make a profit.
According to Ohio Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Ashley Rittenhouse, the state utilizes a mixture of beet juice and salt to help keep roads from freezing. The local ODOT garage off Jackson Pike has 12 trucks and is responsible for around 300 lanes miles in the region. It utilized 1,262 tons of salt last winter. Salt was $53.07 per ton last winter and is $51.83 per ton this year. ODOT held its annual winter preparedness classes and truck checks in October.
“We want to remind drivers to take it slow in ice and snow this winter and give our drivers plenty of room to work,” said Rittenhouse. “Plow trucks are often traveling at slower speeds than typical traffic and the plow is wide and can sometimes cross the center line. Unfortunately, ODOT plows were struck 35 times statewide in 2016.”
“Last year we used maybe 50 percent of the salt that we had,” said Gallipolis City Manager Gene Greene. “We’ll normally order about 75 tons on hand. We’ve got two big trucks, a ton truck and a pickup, so we have at least four.”
The city primarily uses salt.
“All of our trucks have been pulled into the garage and serviced,” said Greene. ” We make use of backhoes where needed. Our main challenges are the (hilly areas). Oakwood Drive is a challenge. Garfield Avenue can be tricky too, if it gets really icy.”
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342.