WINTERSVILLE - Many of the current workers at the Ohio Department of Transportation garage in Wintersville weren't even born when the current maintenance building was built in 1955.
But the workers were excited Monday when ODOT broke ground on a new $7.4 million garage to be located on 11 acres off of county Road 43, just south of the Jefferson County Industrial Park.
Ed Lucas, an ODOT truck driver for 20 years, wasn't fond of having to wash his truck outside in the winter after completing a long shift of plowing snow and spreading salt.
NEW GARAGE — The new Ohio Department of Transportation garage to be built on county Road 43, near the Jefferson County Industrial Park, as shown in this architect’s drawing, will include a salt building, a building to mix aggregate and salt, an equipment storage building, a truck storage building and a main garage building with offices. Work is expected to be completed in about a year. -- Mark Law
The new garage will have a wash bay inside the heated garage.
"The new garage will really be enjoyed by us," Lucas said.
Drivers will be able to park all the trucks and equipment inside and there will be a large mechanic's bay where maintenance can be performed.
"It will be fun watching the new garage being built," he said.
The current garage, which sits at the intersection of Cadiz Road and Two Ridge Road, was once in a more remote area, but Wintersville kind of grew up around it, ODOT officials explained.
Lloyd MacAdam, ODOT District 11 deputy director, said the garage isn't the best neighbor in the residential area when there is a snow event taking place and trucks are coming and going 24 hours a day.
MacAdam said the new garage will be more centralized, with drivers having to go a shorter distance to get on state Route 43 and then U.S. Route 22. There are 12 different snow routes in the county, with drivers completing an average of 40 miles plowing and spreading salt.
The building will contain separate salt and aggregate and salt mixing buildings, and buildings for storing equipment and trucks, plus a main garage building with offices. The contractor, LW Associates of Ashville, is expected to complete the structure by September.
Mike Cope, ODOT assistant director, said state trucks have gotten a lot bigger since 1955, with current trucks having large plows, salt spreader boxes and equipment to add salt brine to make the salt more effective when it hits the road.
Cope, a former Harrison County treasurer, said ODOT sets aside money in its annual budget to replace outdated garages, with the goal of getting equipment inside to extend its life. The state has a schedule for replacing trucks, depending on the amount of snow received in different regions.
"We have some trucks that are able to vote - they are 20 years old," he said. "But this (new garage) shows a commitment to workers, not just trucks."
Jason Wilson, director of the Governor's Office of Appalachia, said the new ODOT garage shows that economic development occurring and will occur in Jefferson County. He noted the county's industrial park, highway and river access and the improvements to the county's airport.
"The ingredients for job creation are right beneath our feet," he said.