One week after a massive
winter storm dumped up to two feet of snow on parts of Butler
County, the statistics continue to pile up. Snow and ice control
crews from the Butler County Engineer's Office are still working
the roads, cleaning up and pushing huge mounds of snow off the
berms in order to give drivers more room and better sight distance.
County Engineer Greg
Wilkens said that all roads on the County system were passable
by Christmas Day allowing crews to spend the holiday with their
families. Since then however, they have been working around the
clock with additional cleanup efforts. Once the heavy snow had
been plowed off the roads, sub-zero temperatures through the
weekend hampered the effectiveness of salt on roadway surfaces.
Moderating temperatures above freezing have now rapidly accelerated
the melting process. "Our roads are in very good condition
at this point but motorists may still encounter patches of densely
packed snow and ice, mainly on rural roads, so please continue
to drive cautiously," Wilkens advised. "Fortunately,
overnight temperatures are predicted to stay above freezing,
so the danger of snowmelt and slush re-freezing on exposed roadway
surfaces should be minimal."
As snow and ice control
efforts continue into a second week, man hours and overtime have
begun to mount. "It was a 26-hour storm," said Wilkens,
"but the aftereffects have been significant due to the sheer
volume of snow we received in a short time. Our crews did a phenomenal
job of clearing the County roads quickly. Most were passable
by the next day. But the additional cleanup of the roadway surfaces,
berms, and mountainous piles of snow takes additional effort."
Operations Deputy Scott
Bressler added "Our guys have worked a lot of long hard
hours, sacrificing holiday and weekend time away from their families
so that others can travel safely. They've done an outstanding
job and we're extremely proud of them. Not to be forgotten are
the behind-the-scenes efforts of many, including Operations Manager
Roger Johnson, and Denny Hileman and Wayne Sears, the Operations
Supervisors for our snow and ice control teams. Operations Secretary
Angie Weber handles phone calls and requests for service, time
sheets, material tickets, and more. She has a way of keeping
things highly organized in the office even though her workload
triples during a storm like this."
Bressler also acknowledged
the mechanics who keep the fleet running and must often make
repairs to trucks out on the road. "These guys are sometimes
on their backs in the snow underneath a truck in the cold and
the dark," he said. "Because of their efficiency and
preparedness, the Engineer's fleet experienced very few mechanical
problems or breakdowns, which saves time and money."
Since the storm began
BCEO crews have worked a total of 1,466 hours, 853 of those being
overtime hours for a total labor cost of $36,572. Approximately
1,175 tons of salt have been spread at a cost of $34,075. Nearly
3,100 gallons of calcium chloride were mixed with the salt. Prior
to the storm, 1,335 gallons of salt brine were applied to pre-treat
the roadways. Equipment
costs associated with this storm totaled $37,538.
indicate that the total cost of this major winter storm storm
so far is $109,859; however, that number is expected to rise
since crews continue to perform cleanup along berms and at intersections.
BCEO snow and ice control
crews were dispatched at 4:00 a.m. last Wednesday as rain gave
way to sleet and snow. Moderate to heavy snow fell most of the
day, frustrating efforts to keep roads clear. "It was coming
down so fast you couldn't even tell I'd been there ten minutes
after plowing a road," said one snow plow driver. "We
were chasing our tails," said another. Many BCEO personnel
had to be picked up at their homes in 4-wheel drive vehicles
because they couldn't get out of their own driveways.
When the snow tapered
off by 6:00 the next morning, accumulations ranged from 16 to
24 inches around much of the County, with about 10 to 12 inches
in the southeast corner. BCEO crews reported drifts of six to
eight feet high across some roads in the northern and western
townships. But as the storm moved out of the area, crews were
able to quickly catch up and tackle the monumental job of permanently
removing the deep snow from County roads.
Front-end loaders were
utilized to break through drifts too large for even a plow to
handle. "In many cases it was necessary to have a front-end
loader and plow working in tandem to get a road open," said
Bressler. "Because of the huge volume of snow, this was
primarily a plowing event, with salt being used only after most
of the snow had been removed from roadway surfaces. As the temperatures
dropped into the single digits and eventually below zero, calcium
chloride was also utilized to help improve the salt's effectiveness."
Bressler also noted
that the Level 3 Snow Emergency declared by the Butler County
Sheriff helped with snow removal efforts. "It allowed our
crews to clear the roads faster and more effectively since there
were fewer cars to contend with. Some of our snow plow drivers
did report that motorists seemed thankful to see them, smiling
and waving as they went by."
BCEO crews are sometimes
asked which they prefer -- treating roads in heavily developed
locations such as West Chester Township or out in the remote
and hilly areas northwest of the Great Miami River. There are
advantages and disadvantages to each, according to Allen Drake
and Wayne Verling, who work the west and east sides of the County
respectively. "The traffic in West Chester Township can
make your job more difficult, but the roads are more defined
and easier to see because everything is so built up," said
Verling. However, Drake noted that the rural roads on the other
side of the County carry less traffic which makes them easier
to plow, but the drifting is usually more extensive and the edges
of the roads can be harder to find. "It can be kind of scary.
You have to be very familiar with your route, know your roads,
ditch lines, and any and all landmarks, even certain trees, poles,
and mailboxes, to help guide you."
For an idea of what
some of our snow plow drivers encounter, click on the images
below. See what these winter warriors experience firsthand.
- Click on images
- You're the
snow plow driver. Try to find the road.
- Can you find
the road in this picture?
- The stop sign
helps here. .............
- Snow plow
drivers must use their memory of roads and landmarks as well
as their best judgment.
- The telephone
poles help define the edges of this road. .................. .................................
begin to ease. ......................................
- After a couple
passes with a plow sometimes roadway surfaces become visible.
- Snow and ice
control crews plowed thru two feet of snow in places.
- Drifts, some
as high as eight feet, required front-end loaders to break through.
- Progress is
made along Somerville Road. ......................................
- Despite sub-freezing
cold, sunshine helps the effectiveness of salt after the heavy
snow has been plowed off. ..........................
- Once roads
are plowed and passable, crews can begin to clear berms and intersections
and remove packed snow from roadway surfaces.