Cincinnati Public Works ready to tackle snowy roadways

By Stefano DiPietrantonio – bio |email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati road crews have been getting ready for a long haul ahead, and taking a slightly different approach to this storm. They're turning to the "hard stuff".

You may recall the last, somewhat threatening storm that approached, was mainly a rain event and there was concern all of the brine pre-treatment would be washed-away before the rain changed-over to snow.

Now we have a very different scenario ahead of us, The ground is already super-cold, so treating it with a water and brine solution is out for the moment. Instead, road crews have spent the better part of their Wednesday dumping tons of hard rock salt that's been soaked with calcium chloride all over the streets throughout the suburbs.

There are about 150 people pulling 12-hour shifts trying to get as much treatment out there as they can before the snow starts falling.

Diane Watkins is Superintendent Of Traffic & Road Operations said, keeping everybody safe this winter season ,is their top priority.

"We're taking this opportunity to put a layer of salt on everything," Watkins said. "Today the residential areas while people are at work, then tonight, when people have made their way back home, we'll be doing the same thing to the primary roads, the thought process is we don't want that snow that going to fall very quickly to become bonded with the pavements."

The pending storm has hundreds of Cincinnati public works crews out there, throwing down the salt gauntlet on area roadways.

Thousands of pounds of rock salt soaked with calcium chloride are loaded-up and headed for a roadway near you. Their first arm of defense was the crunchy stuff.

"We've got to cover a lot of area in a short period of time," Watkins said. "That's why we selected to use the salt with some calcium chloride."

Their concern is they don't want the snow, which should be falling fairly quickly, to get a firm hold on the pavement.

"A lot of times when we have snow we have a lot of factors that help us in what we do, a lot of those factors are not gonna be involved in giving us that extra little push," Watkins said. "It's gonna be very cold, which makes our chemicals a lot less effective."

And since many moms couldn't force kids to eat them, the road crew are using the juice from beets to beat the snow and ice.

There are two, big, bright blue tanks at the Public Works Station on Colerain Avenue. One has salt brine, and the other is filled with beet juice. This is going to be critical during this storm officials said, because the beet juice is thick like molasses and helps as a binding agent to hold that salt brine on the highways, especially bridges and overpasses, longer.

"The chemical compound in mixing the two it takes the melting ability of salt down from about 20 down to below zero," Watkins said.

Watkins said she'll be watching the FOX19 forecast carefully, because once the snow stops, they will switch to an all-plow operation.

"This is a very difficult area of the country to predict we just have to be able to be flexible to be able to change with whatever conditions we see coming," Watkins said.

There are thousands of people depending on the Public Works Department right now. "We take that responsibility very seriously, the employees here are very dedicated to making sure that the roads are safe for the citizens who live or travel through Cincinnati," Watkins said.

Cincinnati Public Works urges anyone who doesn't have to be out Thursday, to stay home.

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