ODOT prepares to clear roads in Trumbull County

Joe Kellar, an ODOT employee, inspects a salt spreader device on the rear of one of the plow truck.

CORTLAND — With this year’s long-range winter forecast looking to be closer to normal — as in having more snow than last winter — the Ohio Department of Transportation in Trumbull County  has prepared its fleet of 28 snow plows and trucks to handle whatever comes this year.

Last winter, Trumbull had about 48 inches of snow fall on its roads, which is the third-lowest amount of snow that fell in a six county region that includes Ashtabula, which had the highest total snowfall with 84 inches of snow. Portage and Summit counties also received about 48 inches, with Mahoning receiving about 36 inches and Stark receiving 24 inches of snow.

Although the amount of snow that fell last winter in District 4 might have been below normal, the amount of salt used, 89,615 tons, was  the highest in the 12-district state.  An estimated 14,000 tons of road salt and an estimated 103,000 gallons of liquid de-icers were used in the county.

The cost of salt dropped from $57 per ton during the 2015-2016 winter season to $37 per ton.

“At the end of last winter’s season, we had about 6,000 tons of salt remaining out of 21,000 tons purchased ,” said Joe Parthemer of ODOT Trumbull.

To clean the roads during and after snow storms, ODOT uses a combination of straight road salt and liquid brine. Brine is a combination of water and the salt. As the road temperature drops, ODOT replaces brine with aqua saline, which works better at de-icing the roads when their temperatures are between 15 degrees and 18 degrees.

“This the second year we will be using aqua saline,” said Mike Rozzo of ODOT. “It is less corrosive than calcium on our vehicles .”

The department uses bagged calcium when road temperatures drop below 12 degrees, because it is more effective at the lower temperatures.

Meterologist Rob Guarino’s 2016-2017 Youngstown-Warren winter forecast indicates the amount of snow that will fall this winter will be slightly greater than normal at 67.8 inches,  compared to normal winter snowfalls of 63.8 inches. In 2015, snowfall in this region was about 39.6 inches deep.

Guarino is the chief forecaster and publisher of Long Range Forecasts for LiveWeatherBlogs.com.

However, according to Farmer’s Almanac, the lower lakes region, which includes this region, will have a warmer than average winter with above normal precipitation.

In preparation for this winter, the ODOT in Trumbull County has given each of its 28 plow trucks 150 point inspections to make sure they are operating properly. There are 23 plow trucks in Mahoning County.

There will be 46 ODOT employees, both seasonal and full time, ready for this winter’s first blast of snow. During the height of this winter season, ODOT in Trumbull will have 11 to 12 seasonal employees.

“Seasonal workers are here on an as-needed basis beginning in November,” Parthemer said.

New this winter, motorists can download ODOT’s free mobile app – OHGO – which features winter road conditions and personalized traffic alerts with hands-free on the go. The app is available on the App Store and Google Play.

Last winter, 35 vehicles struck ODOT snow plow trucks as a result of following too closely.

“Drivers should be careful when passing snow trucks, even those driving below the speed limit, because the snow is kicked up and can be blinding,”Parthemer said.