No 'snow days' for ODOT crews over MLK Jr. weekend

When it comes to snow plowing, the Ohio Department of Transportation is responsible for some roads in the state -- but not all.
When it comes to snow plowing, the Ohio Department of Transportation is responsible for some roads in the state -- but not all. [Ohio Department of Transportation]
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The Ohio Department of Transportation spent the past several days clearing massive amounts of snow from Northeast Ohio roadways, but not every roadway.

ODOT handles snow removal on some of the state’s busiest roads. But when it comes to country roads, spokesman Matt Bruning says, “if it’s a state or U.S. route outside a municipality—yes. If it’s a county or township road—no.”

That means ODOT crews do clear Interstate 77 near Cleveland, 270 near Columbus, and 275 near Cincinnati. But on Route 91 or Route 59 in Northeast Ohio, they only handle the portions which are outside of municipalities like Canton and Kent.

ODOT presents some common "Mythconceptions" about plowing:

There was some concern last fall that the agency would not have the 500-or-so seasonal plow drivers needed for this winter.

Bruning says the agency was eventually able to hire about 75 percent of the staff it needed.

“The fact that [the snowstorm] hit kind of late in the afternoon on Sunday into Monday morning, being a holiday, really helped us out tremendously. Because one of the things that makes our job a bunch easier is when we don't have that many people on the road," he said.

“Overall, we can get the job done; that's never been a question. The issue is just how long does it take us to get the job done? Certainly, if we had more drivers, we'd be able to do it a lot quicker.”

Bruning adds that it’s too late for drivers to apply for this winter, given the amount of training involved. But they will need drivers with Commercial Driver’s Licenses for next winter.

"People with CDLs are in-demand in a lot of places. We even have folks that have retired from ODOT come back and work in the winter, just to stay busy," he said. "From time-to-time, we have people who were in heavy highway construction during the summertime [and] obviously that work slows down significantly in the winter. Sometimes they will take seasonal [winter] positions. We also have people who are looking to get their foot in the door for a full-time position at ODOT, so they'll apply for seasonal positions; many times, those turn into full-time gigs."

As for possible salt shortages that have been reported in the past, Bruning adds that as of this week, "we had about 680,000 tons of salt on-hand across the state. That's certainly plenty at this point. The other advantage is that the salt mines are right there in Northeast Ohio, so it's not hard to get to it."

A map of which roadways covered by ODOT is available here.

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