Winter hasn't made much of an appearance to the local area just yet. Despite below-average temperatures most of November and 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 the roads clear of snow and ice.
New Franklin Service Director Bryan Kepler said the city is using brine this year to cut down on the cost of salt.
“This will be the first time we will be using brine,” Kepler said.
Last year, the city purchased a brine making system along with systems for each of their trucks so brine can be applied to the roads. Kepler said his department had hoped to start using the system last year but it was a more involved process than first thought to get all the trucks equipped.
He said learning about brine has been a process but will be a cost-saving in the future. Using brine creates a 30 percent reduction of rock salt. Brine isn’t effective once temperatures drop below 20 and Kepler hopes in the future to start using calcium.
New Franklin also has a truck it is using to pre-treat the primary state routes and some of the secondary hills before a snow or ice event. Kepler said the city has two 10,000 gallon tanks to make brine. Each truck holds between 1,000 and 1,300 gallons of brine.
Two years ago, the city ended its contract with Summit County and New Franklin’s Road Department took on an additional 102 lane miles. In all, the city has 252 lane miles and the Service Department consists of seven full-time employees and three seasonal workers.
Kepler said New Franklin is looking to fill one of the seasonal employee positions. He said he would like to have another one or two employees in the future, which would cut down on the amount of overtime.
During snow events, there is normally a day shift and night shift and Kepler said there can be lots of overtime.
Taking on the additional lane miles has been a huge undertaking Kepler said,
Recently, a new service garage building was constructed and Kepler said that is something his department has needed for a long time. Having a heated garage to park the trucks in will keep things from freezing on the trucks and makes it easier to make repairs.
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) in District 4 is using the same equipment as last year but said they 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 fill 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.
This winter, season the city of Green will have a new 10-ton truck and the city is also waiting on a new 5-ton truck, which is expected to arrive in January.
Green Service Director Valerie Wax Carr said the price for salt is $71.89 and the city hasn’t had any additional salt delivered from its summer supply. The city did refill its Clearlane at $84.31 per ton at about 1,600 tons.
“The salt prices have settled down compared to last year, but still are historically higher than in the past,” Wax Carr said.
Green won’t make any major changes to snow removal this year except it plans to increase pre-treating with brine and liquid de-icer.
The city is seeking seasonal drivers and applications are continuously accepted.
The Summit County Engineer will soon have two new tandem axle salt trucks to assist with snow removal. Summit County Director of Administration, Government Affairs Heidi Swindell said the trucks have been ordered but not delivered yet.
Also, the county has ordered two new tank sprayer systems, which spreads the de-icing liquid onto the pavement. The total cost for the two new trucks and all the various parts needed was $410,000.
Swindell said the engineer’s office has committed to purchasing 17,000 tons of salt at $71.89 per ton.
“This is a much better price than last year,” Swindell said. “We have not heard of any production issues this year that would make the salt prices go up.”
The county has 15 plow routes and it responds to county-wide snow and ice events.
Swindell reminds drivers to drive slowly and leave the plow trucks plenty of room to work.
In Lake Township, the township has committed to 2,500 tons of salt for the season at a cost of $76.89 per ton. The township is not anticipating any salt shortage this year.
Coventry Road Superintendent Lael Stouffer said the township’s bins are full and they are ready for the snow and ice season. He said the township is contracted at $71.89 per ton and they won’t order any more salt until they use enough to make room.
“We will deal with the weather the best we can with what we have available,” Stouffer said. “Easy winters save money for summer projects or vice versa.”