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* News Release *
 
Thursday, October 30, 2008
For Immediate Release

COUNTY CREWS GET READY FOR WINTER
BCEO Snowfighters Roadeo

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.

"The Snowfighters 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.

"Safety" 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."

Plenty of 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 to navigate."

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.

Winter Tips for Motorists

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 to motorists.

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.

# # #

For more information contact:

Chris Petrocy, BCEO Public Information Supervisor
Greg Wilkens, P.E., P.S., Butler County Engineer
Phone 513.867.5744 • Fax 513.867.5849


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