MEIGS COUNTY — Ready or not — winter is coming.
Whether that means snowy weather or not remains to be seen, but rest assured the crews and their equipment will be ready to clear the roadways and make the highways safe for travelers.
On Thursday, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) conducted its annual winter preparedness event at the Meigs County garage, inspecting all the equipment, as well as giving the drivers a refresher course on winter weather tasks.
ODOT District 10 Public Information Officer Ashley Rittenhouse explained that during October and early November, all-day events are held in each of the district’s nine counties to make sure crews and equipment are ready for the upcoming season.
“We are making sure we are as prepared as we can be to make the roads as safe as possible for the traveling public,” said Rittenhouse, adding that is the primary function of ODOT.
A 150-plus point inspection is conducted on each piece of snow-fighting equipment, including checks of brakes, tires, fluid levels and the plow itself.
In addition to the mechanics who work at the Meigs County location on a regular basis, mechanics from around the district came to assist with the inspections. Rittenhouse said this is beneficial in that it brings a fresh set of eyes to examine the equipment and share knowledge.
Drivers, no matter how long they have been with ODOT, go through a snow and ice refresher course each year. Items included in the course include what material to use on the roadways and how to maintain equipment.
In Meigs County, ODOT has 12 snow plows, 15 drivers and two mechanics.
Last winter, 3,550 tons of salt were used on Meigs County’s 426 lane miles of state road. The workers drove 32,364 miles removing snow and ice.
During the 2015-16 winter season, salt cost $71.95 per ton. For this year, the cost is $54.43 per ton. Rittenhouse explained that the relatively mild winter last year leads to a savings in salt costs for this year.
Rittenhouse reminded drivers “don’t crowd the plows” and in “ice and snow, take it slow.” She added that the plows are likely to drive slower than other motorists and may cross the center line or travel onto the shoulder to clear ice and snow. Drivers should maintain a safe distance so the plows may work to clear the roads.
Travelers may check current road conditions on the OHGO website or app.