County prepares for winter weather

Staff Reports

MIAMI COUNTY — While students are dreaming of the first snow day, county crews are preparing their trucks, mounting plows and salters, and, while Santa has been getting ready to stuff stockings with toys, the Highway Department has been busy stuffing the salt storage barn to the rafters with rock salt.

All of that salt — nearly 2,000 tons — could be used to help keep the county’s roads and bridges safe. If that supply runs low, the county could purchase up to an addition 3,500 tons at a cost of $55.89 per ton, according to Miami County Engineer Paul Huelskamp.

All of this salt is mixed with small bits of gravel and distributed onto the 424 miles of county roads and 344 bridges.

To further prepare, the highway garage mechanics have examined the plows to check for cracks in welds and made repairs as necessary, adjusted salt spreaders and spinners to maximize efficient use of deicing materials, and performed all scheduled routine maintenance.

“Our primary objective during heavy snow situations is to keep the roadways passable and we rely heavily on the motoring public to use discretion when it comes to slowing down and taking the extra time needed to make it to their destination,” Huelskamp added.

The Highway Department advises drivers to take it slow when roads are icy and reminds them that posted speed limits are for when the weather is clear and the pavement is dry.

During plowing operations, visibility can be greatly reduced due to blowing snow. Plow drivers will often work to clear intersections by wrapping back the corners. In this situation, the driver may need to back up in order to complete a turn.

For their own safety, it is essential that motorists stay back 80 feet (or four car lengths) from a plow truck and never attempt to pass a truck while it is engaged in road clearing.

“Weather related accidents are responsible for nearly 6,000 fatalities per year on U.S. highways. Please help us to keep you safe,” Huelskamp said.