Madison Township’s snow plowing woes


By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Heavy ice and snow on Jan. 12 and the following days compounded a situation that found Madison Township trucks sidelined with frozen salt supplies.

Madison Township Public Works Superintendent Dave Watkins said there were concerns after the snow and ice storms that many township roads were not cleared properly. He said many factors caused roads to become hard-packed and influenced the decision to leave the roads as they were for the time being.

“I advised my drivers to apply salt at our normal locations and we ceased salting after the snow became heavy and we were in a plow-only mode,” stated Watkins in a written report to the Madison Township trustees. “The salt we received from the county had a high moisture content and it caused the salt to freeze in the truck beds because we were not going to use any until after the snow quit.”

During a shift change, Watkins said he and his drivers originally thought it was just the spreader box that froze in truck number six—with a capacity of four tons of salt and 75 gallons of liquid—but later discovered the whole load was impacted.

Two extra men were brought in to compensate for the frozen load by driving pick-ups to plow roads and salt the main roads in Blacklick Estates. In addition, one driver got stuck in the snow.

“The roads were plowed, but an inexperienced driver did not realize why he was having problems and the mains did not get salted and by then the temps were too cold for salt to work effectively,” continued Watkins. “Basically, we lost the roads that night. I did drive the roads Sunday (Jan. 14) morning and decided to leave them as is because they were predicting snow the next day and we would deal with them then, because of the limited budget I have.”

Watkins estimated the Jan. 12-13 storm cost the township approximately $12,809 in labor, materials, and impact on equipment. With 81 lane miles to cover, the total yearly budget for materials is $20,000.

According to Watkins, in comparison, the city of Groveport has 87 lane miles with a material budget of $80,000.

He suggested the trustees consider adding another route, hiring one additional employee and/or increasing the material budget to $50,000.

Factors inhibited clearing the roads, according to Watkins, included vehicles parked on both sides of the street, uneven pavement, a limited material budget, numerous intersections to plow, traffic packing down the snow before plows are on the road, and the 50 lane miles of road plowed by truck six alone.

Watkins wrote it is almost impossible for truck number six to get to every road for which it is responsible within 12 hours.

“For the past two years, there really hasn’t been a winter,” said Watkins. “It’s a bad thing about winter. You never know what you’re going to get.”

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