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The Suburbanite
  • Jackson crews strive to keep streets clear

  • On snowy days, when many of us sit down to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate by the fire, Jackson Township road crews are out battling the snow and ice. Jackson's fleet consists of 17 trucks which maintain 14 routes throughout the township.
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    • JACKSON TOWNSHIP ROAD DEPARTMENT
      NUMBER OF SALT TRUCKS 17
      NUMBER OF DRIVERS 19
      NUMBER OF ROUTES 14
      LANE MILES MAINTAINED More than 400 (200 miles of road)
      MONEY BUDGET...
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      JACKSON TOWNSHIP ROAD DEPARTMENT
      NUMBER OF SALT TRUCKS 17

      NUMBER OF DRIVERS 19

      NUMBER OF ROUTES 14

      LANE MILES MAINTAINED More than 400 (200 miles of road)

      MONEY BUDGETED FOR OVERTIME Not broken down for winter months.

      SALT PURCHASED (COST) 7,000 tons ($48.32 per ton or $338,240 total)

      NEW EQUIPMENT PURCHASED (COST) Two new trucks replaced two older trucks ( $115,000 each). Each truck is fully equipped with snow plows, salt spreaders and controls.
  • On snowy days, when many of us sit down to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate by the fire, Jackson Township road crews are out battling the snow and ice. Jackson's fleet consists of 17 trucks which maintain 14 routes throughout the township.
    Preparation for the winter season begins in September as chains are added to the truck's tires. Each truck is inspected and undergoes a hydraulic flush. Salt spreaders are added to the trucks along with brine tanks on two of the trucks.
    "Our goal is to have everything ready to go by Nov. 1," said Vic Volpe, foremen of the highway department for three years for Jackson Township.
    ROAD CARE PHILOSOPHY
    Battling snow and ice in Ohio can be a real challenge. Just ask Volpe and Foremen of Central Maintenance and Parks Carles Moore.
    "We always monitor the weather to help give us a time frame to get our crews here and the equipment ready," said Moore who has been with Jackson Township for 10 years.
    Moore and Volpe monitor three weather sources: Buckeye Weather, The Weather Channel and AccuWeather. Also, the state road sensors are monitored for road temperature and conditions.
    "When the road temperatures drop below 32," Volpe said, "we know the snow is going to start sticking."
    A new technique the township is using is a pre-wet system that wets the salt and helps it activate faster. This is the second year for the pre-wet system as the township purchased one tank last year and a second one this year. Both can be connected to the trucks.
    The system is used in high traffic areas along with hills and major intersections. Beet juice is also added to the pre-wet system in certain cases and brine is used when temperatures become extremely cold.
    All of the trucks on the fleet have calibrated salt spreaders that slow down when a truck comes to a stop at an intersection and then increases once the truck starts moving again. These spreaders can throw salt into two lanes at time.
    One aspect that helps salt is traffic. Once cars drive over salt, it helps spread it across the road and starts to melt the snow.
    "The more traffic a road receives," Volpe said, "the better the salt will work."
    It takes the road crews three hours to completely go through the routes and salt them. When more than an inch of snow is forecasted, all trucks have their plows on. It takes five and a half to six hours to completely plow all routes in the township.
    "We leave it up to the driver when to plow because, often, there can be more snow in different parts of the township," said Volpe. "Also it is common to see drifting on certain routes."
    Page 2 of 2 - Crews battle the main roads first before attention shifts to residential streets. During a large snow event, a truck on the main routes will break to clear residential streets. While the truck moves to the residential streets, a floater will take its place clearing the main routes.
    "The mains are always our main focus," said Volpe.
    CHALLENGES
    Breakdowns are rare and the township has two trucks that are used as spares. The most common things that have to be replaced are lights and plow edges. A mechanic is always on duty while the trucks are out to aid in repairs that may arise. The mechanic also operates the loader to load salt into the trucks so the drivers don't have to get out of their trucks.
    Moore and Volpe both praised the township for keeping up on the trucks limiting breakdowns or costly repairs.
    One of the biggest challenges is traffic.
    "We try our best to get out and clear the roads before rush hour," said Volpe.
    Other challenges the township faces includes clearing cul-de-sacs because they are time consuming.
    Volpe and Moore both remind drivers to slow down and stay back. Often, drivers pull up right behind a truck and many of the trucks have to back up as a part of their route. The most challenging recent winter was the 2010 -2011 winter season. The township went through a lot of salt and trucks were out on the streets every day in January and February in 2011.
    Motorists are encouraged to remember that not all roads within the township are maintained by Jackson Township crews such as Portage and Wales.
    "We often get blamed for a lot of the county and state roads that we do not maintain," said Volpe. "If our guys go by a route maintained by the state or county to get to their route and it isn't clear, they will make a pass for safety reasons."
    Moore and Volpe spoke highly of drivers who work to keep roads clear. Drivers are not allowed to take any vacation between November 1 and April 1. All drivers are on call 24 hours a day during the winter months.
    "The township has loyal and good guys that come in when we need them," said Volpe.

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