WINTERSVILLE - With winter fast approaching, Ohio Department of Transportation District 11 mechanics are making sure snow plows are ready for foul weather.
Eight mechanics from the district office in New Philadelphia on Monday joined two stationed here in Jefferson County to make sure the 17 trucks used locally are up to the task, going through a 150-point safety checklist that tested everything from hoses and fluid levels to tires and snowplow attachments.
"We want to make sure everything's ready for whatever's coming," District 11 Deputy Director Lloyd MacAdam said. "The timing couldn't be better this year, with this big storm coming our way. We don't think there'll be much snow with it, but if there is, we'll be ready."
SAFETY CHECK — ODOT District 11 mechanic Ted Dailey ran a safety check Monday on a snowplow in Jefferson County, one of 17 that will be used locally this winter to keep 12 snow routes passable. -- Linda Harris
MacAdam said the Jefferson County office has 12 snow routes to maintain with its 17 trucks, essentially giving them five to use as backups in the event of a breakdown or malfunction. Because last year's winter was a mild one, he said they already have 7,900 tons of salt stockpiled - slightly less than the 8,074 tons the county uses in a typical winter.
ODOT Director Jerry Wray pointed that while last winter was mild, "Ohio weather is unpredictable."
"By ensuring our equipment is fully functional and our drivers are trained, motorists can be assured roads will be safe and passable from the first snowstorm to the last," he said.
This year, ODOT is adding green and white colored strobe lights to the traditional amber ones on its snowplows. The three-colored light sequence - green, white and amber - is unique to ODOT.
MacAdam said the new lights are a safety upgrade: The switch was prompted by the number of vehicles rear-ending ODOT plows in Ohio, four times the number in neighboring states. Studies have shown green lights are more easily detected by the human eye than other colors.
So far one tandem truck in Jefferson County is equipped with the new colored lights, but MacAdam said they'll be added to other, newer trucks in the fleet.
Statewide, 1,600 snow trucks will be outfitted with the new lights. Going forward, all new trucks will be delivered with them already installed. ODOT plans to have one-third of its trucks equipped with the new lights by the end of 2012, with the balance to be done next year.