County Road Crews Gear Up for Winter
Slightly above average amounts of sleet, freezing rain, and snowfall are in the forecast for Butler County this winter, and the Engineer’s Office will be ready to keep county roads safe for motorists throughout the season. The BCEO will host their annual snow plow ROADEO, which allows crews to practice truck maneuvers through an obstacle course designed to simulate actual winter situations.
This fun, yet challenging event offers friendly competition for BCEO snow truck drivers and their fellow crew members from a dozen or more area municipalities and townships, who also vie for the best times and most accurate truck maneuvers. The day before the ROADEO, drivers will prepare their trucks with salt box and plow installations, followed by performing dry runs of their snow plow routes without the distraction of snow and limited visibility. This measure is an opportunity for the drivers to re-familiarize themselves, or if it’s a new route, become familiar with various aspects of the route. They will be looking for overhead hazards, mailbox placement, any obstacles that might trip the plow blade, and new roadway features such as a newly constructed roundabout.
The ROADeo will be at the Engineer’s Office next Thursday, November 7, 2019, and will begin after an 8:00 a.m. classroom training with Operations Deputy Scott Bressler and Abner Johnson, retired ODOT Weather Systems Coordinator. Topics will include the importance of pre-trip inspections and equipment maintenance as well as the RWIS (Road Weather Information System) used by ODOT and how it could benefit our drivers. In addition to the training, snow and ice control vendors will be on-site, showcasing their new equipment, tools, materials, and safety gear.
The BCEO Operations Department found a way to save money by giving old trucks new life. Their “Truck Build” solution for deteriorated, broken-down trucks has equipped them with enough snow trucks for two Snow and Ice Control teams of 16 for a fraction of the cost in prior years. The rebuilding process started with removing dump beds from older trucks that are no longer dependable to be front runner snow trucks. Next, they’re sandblasted, painted, and installed on NEW cab and chassis Western Star tandems. (Two new cab and chassis Western Star tandems were purchased for this season.) The old snow trucks are not discarded but converted into construction and dump trucks. Though recycling the equipment requires a great deal of planning and labor, it results in a savings of approximtely $60,000 per snow truck.
Salt Supplies, Salt Contract
The BCEO will begin this winter season with 13,000 tons of salt stored in two barns, each with a capacity of 6,500 tons. Last year, the BCEO used 4,696 tons of salt, which is significantly less than the average 6,200 tons spread in a typical Butler County winter.
This year the BCEO awarded its salt contract for the upcoming winter season to Cargill, Inc. – Salt, Road Safety, which submitted a low bid of $73.21 per ton (dumped), over $10 more per ton than last year. This is a fixed rate, so even if road salt is in high demand this winter, the BCEO is locked in at that price.