As temperatures begin
their gradual descent to winter norms, BCEO snow and ice control
crews are warming up for the season. Winter readiness really
kicks in next week with a two-day event that will include a snow
plow "roadeo" and driver safety training. Butler County
Engineer Greg Wilkens notes that while preparations will be every
bit as rigorous as in recent years, an old tradition is being
revived to make things a little more fun for the crews.
Truck Roadeo will once again be part of our program this year,"
said Wilkens. "The event was phased out many years ago and
we felt that it was time to bring it back. It's a good opportunity
for our snow plow drivers to hone in on their skills, develop
good safety practices, and familiarize themselves with their
trucks. It also provides the means to interact with fellow drivers
and work on their skills together."
During the roadeo competition,
snow plow drivers maneuver their trucks through an obstacle course
designed to simulate actual winter situations. While hosted by
the County Engineer's Office, crews from other jurisdictions
will also participate, including those from the townships, the
City of Oxford, and Monroe.
Most of the winter
readiness program will be concentrated into two days. Crews on
Wednesday, November 5 will focus on truck preparation, including
salt box and plow installations, cleaning, and getting them in
winter condition. Supervisors will review routes and safety procedures
with each driver who will then perform a dry run of their routes.
The roadeo will be
held on Thursday, November 6, but that day will also include
in-house training for all drivers. This training is a review
for many, but there are also a few new drivers who will learn
the fine details of truck safety inspection, safe driving practices,
plow blade replacement, calcium fill procedures, tire chain utilization,
and emergency procedures for a stuck vehicle or an accident.
is what Operations Deputy Scott Bressler emphasized. "Safe
crews practicing safe snow removal procedures so that our citizens
can commute safely.....that is the bottom line."
Salt Now, but Shortages May Bring Difficulties
Road salt is currently
in good supply at the BCEO, which maintains 275 centerline miles
and 607 actual lane miles of roadway. Salt may be spread a little
thinner this year however. A nationwide shortage has reduced
salt supplies, dramatically increasing the price.
The BCEO awarded its
salt contract last June to Cargill Deicing Technology which submitted
a low bid of $51.42 per ton. That is a $22.00 increase from five
years ago, but considerably less than what most agencies are
paying this autumn due to the shortage. "Fortunately, we
were ahead of the game and advertised our salt contract early
before the ensuing shortage and skyrocketing prices. Some agencies
are now having to pay over $170 a ton," said Bressler.
The 6,000 tons of road
salt now piled in the BCEO's salt barn are enough to last through
an average winter. But, says Bressler, it will be used more sparingly
than in previous winters since additional salt may be hard to
come by. Last year the Engineer's Office spread over 8,500 tons
of road salt, well over the 6,000 ton average. That was due to
numerous small to medium snow events and a late season blizzard
that dumped 10-15 inches of snow across Butler County.
Bressler stresses that
the motoring public will need to be extra patient this winter.
While the County has a good supply of salt at present, other
jurisdictions around the region have not fared so well. "Regardless
of where motorists are driving, we hope they will keep in mind
that road salt is in short supply. We and most agencies will
be spreading it thinner this year," Bressler said. "While
everything will be done to ensure a safe commute, motorists should
anticipate ahead of time that roads may be a little trickier
Bressler also emphasized
that the County may have to resort to using grit or slag, which
is a small angular stone -- good for traction but, of course,
contains no melting properties. Some other local and regional
agencies have indicated that they may use sand in place of salt
should their supplies dwindle.
More patience will
be required when navigating snow- or ice-covered roads this winter
as motorists are urged to keep in mind the limited salt situation.
In addition, commuters should always plan ahead, allow plenty
of extra driving time, and if possible, stay off the roads during
the most severe winter storms. More traffic makes it harder for
plows and salt trucks to clear the roads. If you are stuck in
traffic, so are the snow plows.
Remember, allow the
plow drivers to do their job. Always be courteous and give the
trucks plenty of space. Don't pass a plow unless absolutely necessary
and don't assume the plow operator can see you.
When clearing your
driveway, please do not push snow into the road. This illegal
practice constitutes obstruction of the roadway and can be dangerous
For these and other
tips, plus lots of interesting information about snow and ice
control, be sure to visit the BCEO
Snowfighters page here on our web site.
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For more information
Petrocy, BCEO Public Information Supervisor
Greg Wilkens, P.E., P.S.,
Butler County Engineer
Phone 513.867.5744 Fax 513.867.5849