As blizzard conditions continue to blanket some portions of the Buckeye State, the Ohio Department of Transportation is doing what it can to clear the state’s roadways. In an interview with Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles, Joel Hunt of the transportation department explains how the department is dealing with the snow and ice.
HUNT: "We have all of our crews out in full force, and we are currently running 12-hour shifts throughout the end of the storm."
INGLES: "When you say all of your crews are out in full force, what does that mean?"
HUNT: "All our available drivers and all our available trucks are on the road."
INGLES: "Are you short-staffed because of the holidays?"
HUNT: "We have a group of individuals who plow as backups and were being called to plow tonight, but we’ve had enough of our regular people to plow throughout the day."
INGLES: "This is typically a busy travel time during the year anyway, and we see more traffic on the roads during this week. Throwing a snow storm in the middle of it, what exactly does that do to this?"
HUNT: "Well it certainly doesn’t help, but this is our job. We begin preparations for the snow and ice season in the fall. So around October, November, we bring out all of our equipment, and we test to make sure we have all of our supplies, all of our drivers are refreshed on how to use the equipment. So it’s one of our priority services that we offer the public. It’s unfortunate the snow storm is going to intermingle with the heavy holiday traffic. But there are things motorists can do to prepare themselves before they head out."
INGLES: "So what kind of things can motorists do to make it easier to travel in Ohio right now?"
HUNT: "First thing they can do is go to our website, Buckeyetraffic.org. It’s got a map of the state and there’s different filters you can use to see what roads are closed or restricted. How the road conditions are, we have weather stations throughout the state. And they can check their route that they are going to be travelling. To be armed with information is really good. Maybe you need to alter your route. But definitely leave early, allow for extra time of time. And as far as your vehicle goes, make sure you’ve removed snow from your windows, lights and signals. And this year, we are one of the first states in the nation to use green lights on our snow plow trucks. Studies have indicated that green lights are processed more easily by the human eye, and so about half of our fleet, by the end of this year, will have the green lights on them so we hope that is going to cut back on the rear-end collisions of our vehicles."
Hunt says there are some parts of the state where road conditions are worse. In particular, he says parts of Interstate 77 are treacherous right now. Hunt says state road crews have been directed to those areas to help.