LIMA — Mother Nature jumped the gun.
The annual fall inspection of snow plows at the Ohio Department of Transportation garage in Lima was a little anti-climatic this year, coming five days after an unseasonable snowfall deposited several inches of the white stuff on Allen and surrounding counties.
Brian Rader said the crew of drivers and mechanics charged with keeping trucks rolling and clearing Allen County’s 556 miles of state and interstate highways took it all in stride.
“We normally have our inspection of snow plows completed before the first snow hits the ground, but as we live in Ohio … give it a minute and the weather will change.”
Rader is the transportation manager of the Allen County Road Maintenance Garage. The Lima facility is charged with keeping the county’s highways clear, and also is the home base for District One of the Ohio Department of Transportation.
The district serves the counties of Allen, Defiance, Hancock, Hardin, Paulding, Putnam, Van Wert and Wyandot and is charged with maintaining approximately 3,200 lane miles of state and federal highway and more than 800 bridge structures throughout the eight-county area.
While it is not uncommon for northwest Ohio to get a smattering of snow in early November, Monday’s storm was unusual in its scope and the difficulties it created for motorists. Driver slide-offs and fender-benders were commonplace Monday afternoon and into the following morning as slick and snow-covered roadways were prevalent, despite the best efforts of ODOT crews.
Radar said crews knew the storm was coming and had prepared accordingly.
“We spent two days last week putting our (snow plow) trucks together in anticipation of the storm,” he said.
Allen County’s highway garage has a fleet of 19 trucks, and throughout District One the state maintains 118 trucks for snow removal.
Radar said the annual inspection features a “very thorough” look at the equipment at ODOT garages.
Snow plow drivers are required to complete a 56-point checklist before leaving the garage every day. Radar said the annual inspection goes “above and beyond anything the drivers do in the pre-trip inspections.”
When snow hits the fan, as it does every winter, crews of 14-16 drivers each will take to the roadways in 12-hour shifts.
Radar also said ODOT will increase its use of salt brine applications in Allen County this year. The solution — used before, during and after heavy snow storms — is less costly than salt and is equally effective in keeping highways ice-free.