By Susan Tebben
With the help of an 18-wheeler designed in the Mahoning County garage, the Ohio Department of Transportation won a national award and became the first state in the country to win the award.
Representatives from ODOT gathered at the Mahoning County ODOT garage in Canfield to present a sign touting their winning of the American Public Works Association’s Excellence in Snow and Ice Control Award for 2013.
The award usually is given to city, township, villages or municipalities, but this year, technology and “best practices” gave ODOT an edge, according to officials with ODOT.
“The biggest thing in winning this award was the group effort,” said Doug McElroy, transportation manager for ODOT.
“We all worked together to do the best we could when the snow storms came, and that brought us this award.”
District 4, which serves Mahoning and Trumbull counties, used 121,000 tons of salt in the winter of 2013 and 1.9 million gallons of brine solution.
To control the snow and ice, ODOT spent $11 million in this district, a part of the $82 million spent in the state.
The totals were up from last year, estimated to be close to doubling the amounts because of the mild winter last year, according to Justin Chesnic, public information officer for District 4.
A piece of equipment that only exists because of the work of Mahoning County ODOT employees was a part of the application that won the agency the award.
Mechanics in Canfield put together many ideas about how to quickly clear roads in winter weather and created the multipurpose tractor trailer 3, a truck which can be used for pre-treatment of the roads, along with clearing and salting the roads after the snow and ice have hit.
“It’s a tool that’s used in a certain situation,” said Ron Sharpe, head of the mechanics garage, who was a part of the team that designed and built the tractor trailer.
“But [with the trailer] we can use a bunch of materials at the same time.”
The tractor-trailer has three steel frames, one that has six 650-gallon tanks that can hold 3,900 gallons of brine or calcium chloride brine mix, another that holds a nine-ton salt hopper with a spreader and a third for the snowplow that is underneath the trailer.
It also will be used in the summer to haul slag, salt, dirt and pavement grindings.
The tractor trailer costs about $125,000, according to ODOT documents.
Yearly snow and ice driver training and websites such as buckeyetraffic.org and ohgo.com that give Ohio drivers information about weather conditions, construction and traffic also were factors in the winning of the award, according to the nomination information.
The award is positive feedback for the district, but the work that goes into improving ODOT’s snow and ice control doesn’t end with awards, McElroy said.
“We’re always looking ahead to see if we can improve our equipment and what we do,” McElroy said.