COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) will be busy Monday night just as it has been for much of this month.
ODOT’s plow drivers started hitting the road at 8 p.m., making a dent in the roughly 2,500 tons of salt in just one of the department’s salt barns.
About 75 drivers in central Ohio will start off the evening, but before all is said and done, 150 will be working on the highways across the region. If needed, ODOT can call in more.
Once crews hit the road Monday, ODOT is going to have them work 12 hours on, 12 hours off because snow is expected later in the week as well.
“You will see these crews start working 12 hour shifts as of tonight,” said ODOT spokesperson Brooke Ebersole. “They’ll work 12 hours on, 12 hours off. Because this is really going to be a marathon of winter weather that helps them kind of get into a routine, that we have plow trucks out there all the time and we don’t let winter weather get ahead of us at any point.”
Forecasts are calling for anywhere from 4 inches in the Washington Court House area, just over 2 inches in Columbus and the immediately surrounding area, and a dusting north of the city.
“It’s been pretty hard lately, but we’ve been keeping it together,” said truck driver Robert Parrott III. “That’s part of truck driving.”
As a truck driver, Parrott has seen snow flakes flying a lot lately. From Florida, he said seeing snow from time to time is nice, but he’s glad he’s not in Ohio all winter.
“Only thing I can say is bundle up,” he said. “Bundle up, stay warm.”
ODOT is also reminding drivers to give the crews room while they work, whether that’s in the evening or during the morning commute.
“I know it’s tempting to get right up behind them because you think that’s going to be the safest route for you to pass through, but believe it or not, that’s not safe for you, that’s not safe for our driver,” Ebersole said. “Back off a couple hundred feet. Give them plenty of space”
According to ODOT, $14.4 million has been spent on snow and ice removal, including materials and manpower, so far this winter in central Ohio.
“This winter looks a lot different than last winter,” Ebersole said.
With more winter weather this year, it’s been a more expensive season than last year. Up to this point in 2020, ODOT had spent $6.8 million. ODOT has used almost 49,000 more tons of salt this year than it did through the same period last year.
“I believe this garage is on their second reorder of salt already this winter,” Ebersole said. “Last year, none of the garages, at least here in Franklin County, really had to reorder salt at all because we didn’t have a lot of winter weather, but this winter really has not looked the same at all as the previous winter.”
She said it was too cold Monday to pretreat any roads, but ODOT is hoping some of the salt they put on the highways over the weekend will help with this round of winter weather.