LIMA — It's just another day at the office.
For street and road crews throughout the region, Tuesday's winter storm warnings for the entire region was not disconcerting at all. Even with the potential for as much as 10 inches from Tuesday night into Wednesday, crews throughout the region were ready.
“We're about as ready as we can be,” said Saul Allen, deputy director of public works for the city of Lima. “Right now, we've got salt and fuel and everything in our trucks right now, making sure they're cleaned up and providing small maintenance to ensure they're ready to go.”
“If they were calling for 40 mile per hour winds with 10 inches of snow, we'd be getting pretty excited about it,” said Dan Hanjora, Allen County road maintenance superintendent. “But with 4 to 7 or 6 to 10 inches of snow, we use the same amount of salt for 6 inches of snow as for 2. All of our trucks are already loaded with salt and checked out, so they're ready to go.”
“To get 4 to 10 inches with no wind is no big deal at all,” Putnam County Assistant Engineer Troy Recker said. “When it gets to the point where guys aren't going to be able to get out of their homes, we do have them spend the night, if need be, so they are able to get to work.”
To tackle heavier snowfalls, it is vital for crews to plan ahead in terms of equipment and personnel.
“We just make sure we have salt and everything available,” Allen said. “When we start getting some heavy snow, we try to plan our manpower ahead, looking at not just second and third shift, but what first shift and second shift the next day will look like. We'll start looking out farther because clearing it out would take longer.”
“We have a small night crew,” Hanjora said. “They're able to go out and take care of some of the routes until we come in at the regular time. We'll probably be in at 6:30 in the morning unless it dumped down to the point where the roads were becoming impassible.”
For Putnam County, as well as some other area agencies, the number of workers does not allow for multiple shifts to tackle the roadways 24 hours a day.
“We have to be smart about it,” Recker said. “We try to run as much as possible during daylight hours since it's safer. They'll typically go at about 5 a.m. and try to get a complete round, which takes about two or three hours.”
“We come in sometimes at 3 or 4 in the morning and work most of the day until we get done,” said Jeff Rostorfer, street maintenance foreman for the city of Wapakoneta. “We've basically just got one shift that's got to do it all. We'll be hitting it in the morning.”
Depending on the amount of snow, Lima could see as many as 10 plow trucks on the roads during the day, with eight plow trucks in Wapakoneta and 12 in Putnam County. For each of those drivers, tackling snow is preferable by far to the alternative of ice and freezing rain.
“Snow's a lot easier to drive on than ice,” Hanjora said. “Knowing we're supposed to get just snow, we can handle that.”
“If we get freezing rain, you can't do much but put salt down,” Rostorfer said.
However, with as much snowfall as the area has seen in the past month, crews are looking forward to the season changing.
“To start, the guys really enjoy the overtime, but after a while, they're done with it,” Allen said. “Like myself, the guys have to go home and take care of sidewalks and driveways the same as anyone, and it's tough after being behind the wheel of a plow for as many as 16 hours.”
“We're ready for spring,” Hanjora said. “Every day, we get one day closer.”