Roads prepped again for wintry blast

The potential for up to a foot of snow to fall on some parts of the Miami Valley by Monday had county highway departments, cities and the Ohio Department of Transportation readying for another wintry blast.

Local residents making runs this week to hardware stores for rock salt have more or less exhausted supplies. About all that some stores reported still in stock were bags of salt used primarily for water softeners.

As of Friday afternoon, the track of the storm was still evolving, said WHIO-TV meteorologist Rich Wirdzek. He anticipated the storm in two phases. First will be lighter snow and ice early Sunday. There will be a break during the day as the system approaches.

By late Sunday, a heavier snow will fall through the night and into Monday. Wirdzek said that north of Interstate-70 he expects mainly snow. Around Dayton and to the south, a layer of ice is expected. Travel could be most difficult Sunday evening through Monday.

Cindy Antrican, spokeswoman for AAA of the Miami Valley, said its Roadside Rescue Team is preparing with extra staff for an increase in calls from stranded motorists.

Going into the storm, hardware store supplies of salt and ice melting chemicals are short - or nonexistent - around the region. The repeated snowfalls and extreme cold have made rock salt and portable electric heaters difficult, if not impossible, to find and order, said Dan Beck, manager of Greive Hardware in Kettering. Beck sold 180 bags of rock salt in less than a week as residents prepared for the storm.

It was the same story at Handyman Ace Hardware, 1950 E. Stroop Road. There, rock salt sold out Friday afternoon, Bill Pittl Jr., store manager said. Other stores in the local chain nearby also report they are also out, Pittl added.

“All we have left is water softener salt, and a few bags of that,” he said. “You can use that. It takes longer to melt, but it will work.”

At Lowe’s Home Improvement, 5252 Salem Avenue in Trotwood, rock salt has not been available for three weeks.

“I don’t know of anybody that has rock salt,” said one store manager.

The Ohio Department of Transportation, however, said it has adequate supplies. Deliveries of salt have been slow but there is enoughto cover what’s expected, ODOT spokeswoman Melissa Ayers said. Statewide, the severity of the winter season has caused the state to use 920,000 tons of salt and clear 11 million miles of road to date, Ayers said.

The salt supply was less certain at the city and county level, but should be adequate. Montgomery County engineer Paul Gruner said that the 4,000 tons on hand should be more than enough for the storm. Gruner said Friday he’s taking calls from the cities of Dayton and Kettering and said the county would help to supplement road salt supplies there.

Gruner predicted that this storm will require about 500 tons. “It should be good for the rest of the winter,” he said. Miami County also reported an adequate supply.

Shelby County Engineer Robert Geuy said his supplies of rock salt are quite low at less than 100 tons. He expects the storm will exhaust the remaining pile. There’s no more salt to be delivered with the current contract, he added.

“We have purchased the maximum 100 percent of the contract and will get no more deliveries,” he said. “‘I suspect by the end of this snow, if the ice stays south of us, we can get through this event. Then, we will be running on empty.”

At the Darke County garage, Highway Superintendent Shane Coby said that plenty of road salt is on hand, the supply being 600 tons. He said 22 trucks will be out to handle the storm.

“We are good with whatever Mother Nature throws at us,” he said. “Let’s hope we don’t get it.”

The city of Dayton said Friday that it’s asking plow and truck drivers and support staff to report Sunday at 3 a.m. for a 16-hour shift. Alternate drivers will operate trucks and plows to follow-up, and the original group of drivers will return Monday at 3 a.m. for another 16-hour shift, the city said.

The primary focus for plowing and salting will be highways, thoroughfares, hills and bridges, but after the snowfall stops and primary roadways are open for safe travel, residential streets will be lightly salted, the city said. Dayton’s salt inventory is 1,600 tons, and an average snowfall usually results in applying 1,000 tons.

If the accumulation exceeds several inches, the city will prioritize plowing of Central Business District streets to the middle of the street, with snow removal to follow. The streets are: Main Street, Third Street, Ludlow Street, First Street and East Fifth Street.

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