Valley road crews prep for incoming snow storm - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio


Valley road crews prep for incoming snow storm

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Spring is a week away, but it isn’t time to break out those lawn mowers just yet.

21 News Chief Meteorologist Eric Wilhelm predicts between 1 and 3 inches of snow is going to fall before Tuesday morning. Another 1 to 3 inches is expected throughout Tuesday, before turning into lake effect snow, which will lead to additional accumulations in parts of the Valley.

Road crews all over the Valley braced themselves for the snow storm and are out in full force to make sure drivers are safe.

The Mahoning County Engineer Pat Ginnetti says they have 21 trucks that will hit the streets. These workers will be out in the salt trucks all around Mahoning County once the snowfall hits.

The same trucks — with the same workers — were already out this morning patching potholes in areas like Four Mile Road Run in Youngstown, despite the freezing temperatures.

"It's been a crazy year," Ginnetti said. "We're having four seasons in one week. Some of these weeks—two weeks ago it was 75 degrees here. Today it's 22."

The Mahoning County Engineer has saved about $11,000 in overtime wages this year. From November 2015 to mid-March 2016, $58,771 was spent on overtime. This year, $47,360 was used on overtime dollars.

While the Valley hasn’t seen as much snow this year as last year, Ginnetti says Mahoning County has used almost as much material to keep the roads from freezing.

"We've had a lot of events where you didn't have a lot of accumulation on the roads, but they're putting material down because the roads were freezing up," Ginnetti said.

On average, the Mahoning County Engineer's Office uses 10,000 to 11,000 tons of material to keep the roads from freezing up.

This year, the engineer’s office has used 9,200 tons of material. They say that’s because they’ve had to treat the roads to make sure that black ice and regular ice didn’t form on the number of occasions where rain has fallen and temperatures have dropped below freezing overnight.

Trumbull County Highway Superintendent Gregg Alberini said they had crews out around 1 p.m. Monday, laying brine down on the roads. Brine prevents the bond between snow and the road, which will help with snow cleanup.

They will have 24 guys out in trucks during the snow, all around the clock, only taking breaks and pulling guys off the roads if there are breaks in the snow. They’re planning to take it hour by hour.

Trumbull County’s main priorities are roads south of State Route 82 and 305, as well as main roads, such as Salt Springs Road and Warren Sharon Road.

They want to remind drivers to keep a safe distance and to be mindful of the trucks while they plow and lay salt.

The Ohio Department of Transportation says they’ll have 40 crews divided up between Mahoning and Trumbull counties. They’re planning on mixing beet juice with salt along Interstate 80.

Over in Columbiana County, the engineer’s office says they will have 14 or 15 salt and plow trucks all ready to go to cover all 170 miles of road in the county.

Columbiana County has used 139 tons of material more than last year to treat roads this year. Last year 2,976 tons of material were used, and so far this year, 3,115 tons of material have been used to keep the roads safe.

"The salt usage has actually gone up this year, because we've had a lot of little snows where you didn't plow, you actually put salt down," said Bert Dawson, Columbiana County Engineer.

Like Mahoning County, they’ve also saved on overtime costs. Columbiana County has paid out 1,170 hours of overtime through the end of February. For the same period last year, the county paid out 1,433 hours of overtime.

PennDOT will have 35 to 40 crews working to plow Mercer County.

ODOT says they’ve saved a lot of money on salt this year, and plan to use those saving to pave extra roads this summer.

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