Road Crews Bracing for Weekend Winter Weather

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State and local agencies are watching winter weather forecasts and water levels from ongoing rain in anticipation of severe weather this weekend.

District 10, the branch of the Ohio Department of Transportation in Southeastern Ohio, is bracing for snow and ice in the forecast for Friday night and into Saturday.

Graphic courtesy of the Ohio Department of Transportation.

A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for Athens County and the southeast Ohio region from 4 p.m. Friday to 10 a.m. Saturday. According to the National Weather Service, heavy precipitation is expected, including sleet freezing rain and snow. Total snow accumulations are estimated to be 3 to 5 inches, with ice accumulations of less than an inch, according to the weather service.

Athens County Engineer Jeff Maiden said any previous treatment of the roads has been washed away by the rains of the last few days, but crews will re-treat the roads before the snow starts.

“We’re expecting the ice to start forming around 7 (p.m.),” Maiden said.

Between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., Maiden is sending out crews to cover the roads with a salt-sand mix, so that roads are treated before snow is expected to start, at about midnight.

“We’ll come back in the middle of the night to plow snow, probably about 3 a.m. we’ll come back out,” Maiden said.

The county is also providing salt for villages in the area, including Albany and Trimble. Those areas have already started hauling salt from county storage facilities to their villages.

Hocking County’s road superintendent, Mark Huffman, is hoping for a bit of mercy from the weather so they can get out to the rain-washed roads.

Ohio Department of Transportation

“We’re hoping the ground temperatures won’t freeze before we can get out to treat the roads,” Huffman said.

In ODOT’s District 10, 130 dump trucks and 200 operators are set to cover the 114 routes they run in Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, Vinton and Washington counties.

Crews have already used more salt this year than at the same time last year. Athens County has used 2,277 tons of salt since the season began, and 41,498 gallons of “de-icer,” according to ODOT. Last year at this time, 1,036 tons of salt had been spread throughout the county, and almost 11,000 gallons of de-icer were used.

In Vinton County, 2,222 tons of salt has been put on roads, and 5,653 gallons of de-icer. That compares to the 1,306 tons of salt used last year at this time, and nearly 8,000 gallons of de-icer.

Washington County has seen a big jump in amount of salt and de-icer used from this year to last. This year, 3,837 tons of salt has come out, whereas last year, the county saw less than 2,000 tons of salt up to this point in the season. The county has used 44,618 gallons of de-icer this year, compared to the 16,000 gallons put on roads last year.

High water levels in Southeastern Ohio are also a concern.

According to ODOT District 10, Route 278 in Vinton County, between US Route 50 and the Hocking County line is restricted due to high water. Washington County has closed roads due to the water levels: Route 26 between Marietta and the junction of State Route 260 East, Route 145 between Lower Salem and the Noble County line, State Route 821 between Interstate 77 and Lower Salem, and 821 between Lower Salem and the junction of State Route 530.