FAIRBORN — The City of Fairborn experienced its first snowflakes of the season Nov. 7, reminding citizens that winter is on its way.
While the ground temperatures are still too warm to cause the snow to stick to the ground and create accumulation, the City of Fairborn Streets and Sanitation Division was still prepared to jump into action. Equipment Maintenance and Street Department Superintendent Terry Adkins said all equipment involved with snow removal has been serviced and as of Nov. 6 the trucks were lined up in the city garage row-by-row ready to roll out.
“We’re hoping for the best — that there’s not too much bad weather — but we’re in Ohio, so we’ll see how it goes,” Adkins said.
The city received one new dump truck this year, bringing the total amount of dump trucks owned by Fairborn up to eight. There are also six smaller trucks, three with salt capabilities and two are front loaders. There are additionally three backhoes for treating sidewalks and parking lots and one has been updated with a push box. When it comes to pre-treating the roadways with a brine solution to help activate the salt even faster, Fairborn has a truck with a 1,200 gallon unit that pulls behind, a 1,000 gallon truck and a 500 gallon truck that are both mounted.
The street department includes 10 individuals who primarily drive the trucks. However, Adkins shared that 15-16 employees from neighboring city departments are prepared to step in and take over to allow the primary drivers to rest.
With approximately 304 lane miles to monitor and treat, Adkins said, “It’s a lot to maintain.”
“We want everything to be as safe as possible for the public and the first responders,” he said.
Street department officials closely monitor weather conditions throughout the winter season. If snowfall is predicted with no rain, Adkins said drivers will go to work treating the roads with the brine system as it makes the salt more effective. Upon the snow making an appearance on roadways, Adkins said Fairborn will prioritize its “main arteries,” such as roads that include bridges, large intersections, hills and curves, including Dayton-Yellow Springs, Kauffman Avenue, Maple Avenue, Broad Street, State Route 235 heading toward State Route 4, Col. Glenn Highway, Beaver Valley Road and more, eventually branching out and focusing on snow removal on smaller streets and housing plats.
“We want to keep those main arteries clear at all times,” he said.
Adkins explained that with winter storms involving snowfall of one-inch to an inch-and-a-half, drivers can have routes knocked out within “three to four hours.” However, some winter weather conditions will prevent the trucks from being shut off as they are continuously working to keep roadways clear.
“It’s all weather dependent,” Adkins said. “We hope for the best, but we don’t always get it.”
He advises motorists who encounter snow-plow equipment on the roadways to give the drivers time to get the product down.
“Number one: patience is a virtue,” Adkins said. “Don’t ride near their rear … Make the driver aware that you’re behind them by giving them that buffer.”
When it comes to clearing out plats, he explained that drivers will have to turn the trucks around and asks that motorists give them room. Adkins also advises motorists to park their vehicles off the street if they are able.
“We like to get streets curb-to-curb,” he said. “It’s harder to get the trucks through when there are cars on the street.”
ODOT Greene County winter preparedness
The Ohio Department Of Transportation (ODOT) hosted a winter readiness inspection day at the new Greene County garage on Innovation Way in Xenia Nov. 6.
District 8 auto technicians and mechanics checked out every piece of equipment — trucks, loaders and more — checking off their inspection lists all morning.
“Because snow and ice is really important, we want to make sure all the equipment is up and running, make sure there are no issues before we go out,” Kathleen Fuller, District 8 public information officer said. “If there are any problems we can get them addressed now.”
Tom Bargo, district auto technician, worked alongside Craig Haddix to inspect the trucks’ plows, lights, engines and tires.
“Mechanics have already done inspections. This is a third check. We still find a few things — a light out occassionally, a loose bolt,” Bargo said. “We check plows for cracks. The trucks are used all year, but the plows are just used in the winter so they sit all summer. This is just another set of eyes before they hit the road.”
The team said the goal is to prevent breakdowns and keep trucks on the road. ODOT trucks cover state and federal routes.
“If a truck is down, then you have a route not getting plowed and that becomes a pretty big deal,” Bargo said. “We don’t have many spare trucks.”
Part of the inspection process is to make sure each truck is outfitted with a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, flares, accident repair kit and other small items.
Fuller explained trucks have road and pavement sensors, as well as cameras to allow the ODOT office to see real-time roadway conditions.
“It allows communication between the garage and the drivers. They can gage the storm, see how much salt is needed and how things are progressing,” she said.
This will be the first winter operating out of the new garage, which opened in September and houses at least 25 pieces of equipment. Fuller said a newer facility protects the equipment and extends the life of the trucks.
“It’s very important that our roads are clear and clean,” she said. “We can’t predict the weather but if we can combat what Mother Nature brings us, that’s good.”
Contact Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532. Contact Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498.