Olentangy Valley News

Winter to remember

Salt use, overtime break records in Powell, Delaware

As weather warms, cities now turn focus to potholes

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A consistently cold and snowy winter led to some of the heftiest bills for salt and overtime in the history of the cities of Delaware and Powell.

The city of Delaware used 4,159 tons of a salt-and-grit mix during the snow season and spent $50,911 on overtime for workers responding to 21 snow and ice events.

"All are record amounts dating back at least 10 years," Delaware spokesman Lee Yoakum said, adding that it's likely last winter broke all-time records for the city.

The cost of the mixture of salt and grit that Delaware used this season was almost $147,000.

Workers spread 1,487 tons of salt while attempting to fight off ice and snow in the city of Powell over the winter.

Powell spokeswoman Megan Canavan said that's the most salt the city has used since the winter of 2009-10.

"Those have been the two biggest seasons since we started collecting data in 1995," she said.

The city spent about $16,000 on overtime for plow drivers and almost $98,000 on salt this season.

The harsh winter depleted the salt reserves of many local governments, including Delaware and Powell. Supply problems had Powell on the verge of attempting to borrow from neighbors at one point, and led Delaware to test a sugar-beet juice solution as a means of extending its salt supply.

City workers began testing the solution in January as temperatures routinely dipped well below freezing.

The sugar-beet solution acts as a kind of primer for the salt, keeping the road wet so the salt reacts better with the ice. Yoakum said the solution works better than traditional brine solutions as temperatures approach 0 degrees.

The solution also is used to keep salt in place on the roadway, so less of it is kicked onto nearby sidewalks or into yards by passing vehicles.

Yoakum said city residents can expect to see more of the brown beet solution when the temperatures drop next winter.

"We were very pleased with the results that we saw," he said.

Now that the cycle of freezes and thaws seems to have stopped until next winter, the cities' service departments can shift their focus to the damage left behind.

Yoakum said Delaware city streets have more potholes than usual thanks to the extreme temperatures of this winter. While the city has received fewer than 10 pothole complaints via its website, he said officials know of many problem areas.

Yoakum said city workers currently are targeting problem areas on Glenn, Houk, Slack and Troy roads, Moore Street, Pittsburgh Drive and U.S. Route 37 East.

Canavan said city of Powell public-service workers already have been out to patch problem areas this year.

While the city has received no complaints via its Android app or website, she said the city has received multiple calls about potholes recently. The majority, she said, were about streets outside of city limits.

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