Winter comes early, road crews prepared

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November 18, 2014 - 12:00 AM

Winter doesn’t arrive officially for another five weeks, and meteorologists agree the recent arctic blast that brought more than 2 inches of snow and plummeting temperatures to the area was tied to a freak occurrence — Typhoon Nuri in the North Pacific.
In any event, it gave local road crews an early start on wintry weather responses.
City, county and state road crews were out in response to the Sunday snow storm that blanketed much of the state.
Iola street and alley workers spread 11 truckloads of ice melt along various streets and intersections to help keep roadways cleared. County workers headed out at 4 a.m. Monday with plows and salt spreaders, particularly in the northern and western parts of the county, where up to 3 inches of snow fell.
Crews from the Kansas Department of Transportation, meanwhile, were out in force prior to Sunday’s storm, pre-treating bridges with salt brine to prevent them from freezing over. The crews returned to the roads Sunday morning as the first flakes started to accumulate.
It’s much too soon to tell if the weekend storm is a harbinger of rough winter weather, which could lead to ice melt supply problems.
Bill King, Allen County public works director, and Dan Leslie, Iola street and alley superintendent, said they were alerted in recent months to potential shortages of salt used to treat icy roads. The shortages have yet to be realized, they said. Both the city and county were fully stocked before Sunday’s snow.
King even upped his salt order for this year, from 125 tons to 150 tons, in case the winter is more harsh than anticipated.
“That should last us,” he said.
Leslie said the city, too, has a large amount of salt on hand.
Darren Petrowsky, area engineer with the Kansas Department of Transportation, said salt shortages are nothing new.
“There had similar shortages two years ago because of equipment breakdowns,” Petrowsky said. “Supplies are always a concern.”
All three said a viable option if supplies run low is to change how the salt is mixed with aggregate, such as rock, sand or chat.

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