Sunday, Apr 22, 2018
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Rock salt is solid pick for area's road crews

Snow squalls Monday afternoon left barely a dusting in Toledo, but they gave city and state authorities a chance to check their preparedness for the heavier weather that is likely to come.

While their departments have tested other materials, spokesmen for the Ohio Department of Transportation and the city division of streets, bridges, and harbor said rock salt remains their choice for melting snow and ice.

Craig Schneiderbauer, the transportation administrator at the Ohio Department of Transportation's Northwood maintenance outpost, said the brief snowfalls Monday were enough to warrant spreading 70 tons of salt on Toledo-area freeways - most of it in North Toledo. Even a light snow can cause trouble when cars and trucks track the moisture onto bridges, where it freezes, he said.

“It kept refreezing,” Mr. Schneiderbauer said. “There are a lot of bridges in that area and people won't slow down.”

“It was a good dry run for us,” said Bill Franklin, the city commissioner of streets, bridges and harbor. Crews checked all but the minor residential streets for snow or ice accumulations on Sunday and Monday, he said.

Mr. Franklin and Mr. Schneiderbauer said their salt stockpiles are close to full, but an extended period of icy weather can deplete supplies quickly. The city receives its salt by boat from Cleveland, while the state agency's is trucked from there.

Joe Rutherford, a spokesman from the ODOT district office in Bowling Green, said some winter-weather funds left over from last winter were used to replenish supplies for this year earlier than usual.

In its eight-county District 2, which stretches from Williams County in the west to Seneca and Sandusky counties in the east, the Ohio Department of Transportation spread 45,000 tons of dry ice melter - nearly all of it salt or salt mixes - last winter and more than 51,000 gallons of liquid treatments.

At the Northwood outpost, which is responsible for keeping freeways in Lucas County and northern Wood County clear, only salt and calcium chloride are used.

“We like salt. It's readily available and fairly inexpensive,” Mr. Rutherford said. “And we stick with what we know. With 100,000 vehicles per day, there is no margin for error.”

Last year, the city and the state spread ice-fighting liquids on certain roads before storms were expected to see if those substances could keep the pavement clear from the first snowflake or freezing rain. What officials learned, Mr. Rutherford and Mr. Franklin said, is that those liquids made the roads slippery, too.

“We will go with the salt brine, pre-wetting the salt in the trucks, and calcium chloride,” Mr. Franklin said. “What we're not going to do is spread the [liquid ice melter] without salt.”

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