Many weather predictions for central Ohio say residents should expect the amount of snow and ice to surpass the relatively mild conditions of a year ago. With that knowledge, snow-removal crews for both the city of Pickerington and Violet Township are making their respective game plans now to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
Violet Township Engineer Greg Butcher said the key is to make sure there is enough road salt and brine on hand.
"We have about 800 tons of road salt and 2,500 tons of salt brine available for use," Butcher said.
The township has six trucks dedicated for snow and ice removal to cover 106 centerline road miles.
"We have five large dump trucks in addition to a truck that is solely used for the placement of anti-icing liquid salt brine on the roads in advance of a snow or ice event," he said.
Butcher said it is a challenge to balance resident expectations against an overall mission to provide safe driving conditions for all residents.
"Snow-removal philosophies have evolved from treating every street equally to treating high-speed roads and roads with the highest traffic counts first," he said. "This results in secondary subdivision streets (being treated) last."
Those streets leading to and from schools also remain a priority.
Butcher said technological advancements have helped bridge the gap in the fight with snow and ice.
"Each of the township trucks has a tank that allows the road salt to be pretreated with 90 percent salt brine and 10 percent beet-juice solution directly at the spreader," said Butcher.
That process lowers the working temperature of the salt and reduces salt "bounce" on the road and thus "reduces the amount of salt use," he said.
Pickerington City Service Director Ed Drobina said the city's salt barn holds about 600 tons of salt and he orders more as needed.
Drobina also said it is necessary to prioritize snow removal.
"The city workers clear the main roads first (and) then the side streets and then the subdivisions," Drobina said. "It might be necessary to stop where we are and return to the main roads during instances of heavy, continued snowfall."
Drobina advises residents to shovel snow to the left side (facing the house) of their driveway.
"This minimizes the amount of snow and ice that gets pushed back into the driveway," Drobina said.
Residents should not push snow into the streets, and they need to remove such apparatuses as basketball goals and backboards and other similar things from the right of way, Drobina said.
"These objects are not only unsafe in the right of way, but illegal as well," he said.
Snowplows occasionally can strike mailboxes. Drobina said most mailboxes can withstand the brunt of impact but the city is not responsible for the repair of damaged mailboxes.
"The city will not replace mailboxes damaged as a result of rotten posts or negligence," he said.
Butcher said ensuring safe driving conditions is priority No. 1.
When asked for advice about driving in winter weather, he conjured up sage wisdom he received from his parents which he in turn conveyed to his children.
"Leave earlier and drive slower," Butcher said.