Bexley prepares for worsening winter weather, salt shortage

As winter weather gets worse, the city of Bexley is taking steps to prepare for icy roads and possible power outages. 

There is now a plan in place to deal with the salt shortage, and the city will purchase a generator to run traffic lights at a key intersection in the event of an outage.

A salt shortage this winter has driven up prices and forced local communities to use less.  There are several options for dealing with icy conditions without as much salt, Service Director Bill Harvey told Bexley Council members at the Nov. 25 meeting.

Bexley will be one of several local communities pre-treating roadways with brine, he said. Treating streets with brine prevents the initial inch or so of snowfall from sticking, he said, and the city won’t have to get crews out as quickly.

Once the crews respond, they will be putting down sand mixed with salt instead of straight salt. 

Initially, Harvey said, the mixture will be about 80 percent sand, but the city is experimenting and doesn’t yet know what the results will be. 

If it doesn’t work, we’ll try something else, Harvey said. 

He said the city could increase the amount of salt in the mixture, but Bexley doesn’t have enough salt in supply to put down 100 percent salt on the roads.
While ash can be used instead of salt, Harvey said it’s a messy option and more dirty than using sand. 

The city also will move ahead with earlier plans to scale back application of the sand and salt mixture. 

We probably will only do the main thoroughfares and the areas around the schools, Harvey said. We will still treat in the residential areas, but we will just treat around an intersection … and then we’ll plow of course, assuming it gets deep enough. Typically we don’t plow until we get three or four inches of snow on the ground.

The city also plans to purchase a generator to run the lights at the intersection of College and Main if the power goes out. The city may purchase generators for other intersections in the future.

Surrounding communities have used them successfully for some years. They’re a great safety tool, Bexley Police Chief Larry Rinehart said. The beauty of that is, in the hours of darkness and especially in inclement weather, I don’t have to put a police officer in that intersection. Because that is statistically where police officers get killed, in traffic control in dark intersections.

Rinehart said he is in favor of identifying all the critical intersections in the city and equipping them to be operated by generators. 

It’s a critical element of our emergency preparedness plan, he said. 

The generator isn’t just needed for storm events, though. Harvey said the area of the city near College and Main has had problems with power outages during the last couple of years not related to storms. 

Way too often, he said. I would estimate power has been out this year six times, in this section, for longer than an hour. 

Harvey said he and the mayor have met with American Electric Power several times about the problem, and the company says it is working on fixing the issue. So far the company has struggled to fix the problem, despite putting the area on a different circuit in September. 

Other news
• City council has approved an ordinance to sell bonds for the purpose of paying the cost of constructing, furnishing and equipping the new police station and related facilities, in the maximum principal amount of $7.45 million. The interest is limited to 5.5 percent.

• Like other local communities, the city of Bexley will see a water and sewer rate increase from the city of Columbus.
Council member Mark Masser said that cost will need to be passed on to residents.

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