JACKSON TWP. Winter hasn't made much of an appearance to the local area just yet. Despite below-average temperatures most of November and so in early December, the Akron Canton Airport has only recorded four inches of snow.
Local communities know it is only a matter of time before the snow accumulates and road departments will swing into action to keep streets and highways clear of snow and ice.
Jackson Township runs 16 main snow routes and is responsible for 205 miles of township roads. Public Works Director Ralph Boger said the driver call-out notice is usually from the Police Department to the highway superintendent.
“The highway superintendent then confirms the need and can issue the driver call-out via cell phone and computer,” Boger said. “The school administration is kept in the active decisions of the snow and ice operation.”
The township purchases and cycles one new snow equipped truck each year to replace the oldest truck.
“This is a constant replacement pace to avoid having several trucks wearing out and need replacement at the same time,” Boger said.
The cost for a new computer equipped salt control plow truck is around $150,000. Boger said the salt system in the trucks is set at 400 pounds of salt distribution per lane mile.
The township plans for the potential use of 7,000 tons of salt, which all depends on the weather.
“This has varied from 3,000 tons two years ago to over 8,000 tons,” Boger said. “The township buys the salt through the Stark County Engineers consortium which has cost $68.22 per ton the last two years. We fill our bins early so each season starts out fully stocked.”
Boger said the township is not anticipating delivery problems this year. He also said salt does not go bad over the summer and buying salt from a previous year's pricing has saved money.
“The CDL licensed drivers must be ready and available 24/7 which includes interruption of holiday family gatherings and repeated loss of sleep for nightly long hours,” Boger said. “We attempt to keep the same drivers on the same routes for familiarity as to where to put and not put snow. This is the toughest employment for the drivers and most critical service of the year for the public.”
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) in District 4 is using the same equipment as last year but said it will continue to use the EPOKE systems in Summit County and the Tow Plow in Portage County.
Public Information Officer for ODOT District 4 Justin Chesnic said in District 4, which consists of Ashtabula, Mahoning, Portage, Stark, Summit and Trumbull Counties, salt prices this year ranged from $68 to $74 a ton.
“Overall, we purchased approximately 58,000 tons in the early fall to fil up for this winter,” Chesnic said.
He said prices have increased by about 45 percent compared to last year.
“At this point, we are not hearing any concerns of a salt shortage,” Chesnic said.
This year, ODOT plans to use more salt brine while fighting snow and ice events.
“In the past, we would use brine to pre-treat the roads then use salt during the snow,” Chesnic said. “Now we will also be using some salt brine when the snow is flying. It is just as effective and more efficient.”
He encourages motorists to slow down, give themselves plenty of time during snow and ice events and to avoid distractions while driving.