Allen County has already experienced its first taste of winter weather, and more can be expected in the coming months. But even before the first snowflake fell, the county’s Highway Department was busy preparing for any snow or ice that may settle on the more than 3,000 lane miles of county roads and streets this winter.
Employees used a two-week span during the last week of October and the first week of November to prepare all their trucks and check other equipment such as spreaders and plows.
The Highway Department uses several types of vehicles for snow and ice control – five graders, 27 tandem axle dump trucks, seven single axle dump trucks, and four one-ton small dump trucks. ACHD also uses ten heavy duty pick-up trucks to help clear road intersections and smaller areas.
Allen County is divided into north and south districts with 12 zones in each district. Each zone will have at least one truck, and some will have two or more trucks. Graders are assigned to gravel roads, areas with large drifts of snow, and clearing berms of snow build-ups.
The anti-icing materials used are sand, salt, calcium chloride and stone chips. A sand-salt mixture will be used on most roads. Calcium chloride mixed with sand and salt will be used on roads that need to be cleaned to bare pavement. Stone chips will be used on gravel roads when they become slippery.
On higher traffic count highways, liquid calcium chloride will be applied along with a salt-sand mixture. 36 trucks are outfitted with systems that dispense the liquid onto the salt and sand. The calcium chloride solution speeds the chemical reaction of the salt, causing it to melt snow and ice much quicker.
Snow removal will begin when the roadways are determined to be too slippery or a significant amount of accumulation is covering the roadways. The Allen County Sheriff’s Department will also contact the Highway Department when the roads are in need of treatment.
Allen County will use the statewide travel advisory system to warn motorists about hazardous conditions on county highways. Travel advisories fall into one of three categories:
• Advisory, the lowest level, means that routine travel or activities may be restricted in areas because of a hazardous situation and individuals should use caution or avoid those areas.
• Watch means that conditions are threatening to the safety of the public. Only essential travel, such as to and from work or in emergency situations, is recommended. Businesses, schools, government agencies and other organizations should implement their emergency action plans.
• Warning, the highest level, means that travel may be restricted to emergency management workers only. During a warning, the public is directed to refrain from all travel; comply with necessary emergency measures; cooperate with public officials and disaster services forces in executing emergency operations plans; and obey and comply with directions from properly identified officers. More specific restrictions, including parking restrictions, may be included.