WINTERSVILLE - Officials at the Ohio Department of Transportation's new Jefferson County district headquarters off state Route 43 said they are ready for whatever Mother Nature has in store for them this winter.
From tips on staying safe during the expected snow and ice storms to statistics on how the new facility will help ODOT keep roads clear this winter, officials, during an open house at the facility on Monday, said they are ready for what may come.
"Yes, we're very excited to be in this new $7.5 million facility," said county Manager Ty Justice, adding the new headquarters will help with ODOT's coming battle with winter. "(The facility) will allow us better access to all our routes as well as storing more salt."
GETTING READY — Don Miller, left, and Ryan Johns, drivers for the Jefferson County headquarters of the Ohio Department of Transportation’s District 11, examine a truck in the district’s new facility off state Route 43. ODOT hosted an open house Monday at the facility to inform the public the department is ready for the wintry weather to come. - Mark Miller
Justice said there will be no salt shortages this year, and local ODOT officials will be keeping a keen eye on weather prediction to try to stay ahead of the weather curve.
"We just take Mother Nature one day at a time," said Justice, adding he's not sure about long-range weather forecasts.
He did say ODOT once again will pre-treat roads with liquid salt ahead of storms, which he said does make a difference during the first heavy snowfalls. Justice added the fleet is greased and ready for this year's challenges.
The new facility now has an increased salt capacity and can store up to 9,200 tons of salt. Currently the facility is housing 7,900 tons, with more to come as needed, he added.
ODOT trucks also will have a new look and be easier to spot on roadways, with a new lighting system installed on about half the local fleet, according to Lloyd MacAdam, District 11 deputy director.
"Last year we converted to a new (snowplow vehicle) lighting system," said MacAdam, adding the lights are a combination of green, white and amber. "They are especially bright at night."
MacAdam said the hope is during inclement weather drivers will better be able to spot the trucks during periods of heavy snow or white-outs.
He added drivers should take extra precautions during the inevitable first snowstorm.
"It seems there's always a rash of accidents during that first storm," he said, adding drivers should slow down to acclimate to the new driving conditions. "(Drivers) also should take care to move out of the way for snow plows."
Justice and MacAdam cautioned drivers to be especially careful driving over bridges, as they can freeze before pavement. causing unseen black ice to form.