weather, more than 100 Franklin County Engineer “Snow Fighter” personnel work around the clock to maintain safe travel on
766 lane miles of roads
and streets, and provide road salt and anti-icing
chemicals to 23 communities and public agencies. Snow
Fighter Action Photos
Deployed in two twelve-hour shifts
from two regional facilities and the 970 Dublin Road Headquarters, the snow
fighters operate 31 dump trucks equipped with plows and computerized salt
spreaders that maximize efficiency. They clear 25 designated routes, as
well as those requested by other agencies.
Route checkers, traveling in
vehicles equipped with pavement temperature sensors, are in constant contact
with command post dispatchers who communicate with the county sheriff’s
office, police, and public service departments to ensure fast and efficient snow
and ice removal. The dispatchers also monitor the latest weather
information from the AccuWeather Forecasting System and the National Weather
Snow Fighter support
personnel includes mechanics that provide essential vehicle repair and
preventive maintenance services, and heavy equipment operators that use
front-end loaders, stationed at our regional facilities, to load salt trucks and
remove snowdrifts from roadways.
Snow Fighters participate in an
extensive training program that involves both classroom and on-the-road
instruction. Every year refresher classes are held to discuss snow fighting
strategies, equipment operation and maintenance, and safe driving practices.
Our plow drivers’ knowledge and
maneuverability skills are then put to the test at our annual Snow Fighter
Roadeo. Competitors are judged for their abilities to maneuver through a
difficult obstacle course and in backing their vehicles. It is our goal to prepare the drivers for every
type of on-the-road situation and hazard.
Fighters are also judged for their skills in operating a front-end loader, which
is used for loading plow trucks with salt and removing snow from roadways and
The 27th Snow Fighter
Roadeo was held on October 10, 2012 at the Franklin County Engineer West
Maintenance Facility. More than 70 drivers from the engineer's office and local
The winners were engineer employees Dan Parker
(plow) and Darren Clark (front-end loader).
County Engineer's Office and the City of Columbus jointly operate an automated
vehicle locating system (AVL) for snow and ice control equipment.
During a storm event, AVL provides managers with unit and driver
identification, vehicle location and speed, rate of application for salt and
de-icing liquid, and road and air temperatures. The
tracking system enables the county and city to better coordinate their snow
and ice control efforts throughout the metropolitan area.
Deicers include salt, the
principal road clearing material; liquid calcium chloride, used as a pre-wetting
agent and for additional melting power at lower temperatures; and salt brine,
sprayed on roadways to delay freezing and enhance salt effectiveness.
Salt is applied at an approximate
rate of 400 pounds per mile along a two-lane roadway. During the 2011/12
winter season, we used approximately 3,700 tons of salt and 95,000 gallons
of pre-wetting and anti-icing chemicals.
The 2012/13 winter salt price is
$57.66 per ton, down $1.76 per ton from last year's price. The total cost for snow and ice control during the
season was just over $771,000.
Computerized salt spreaders
are used to guarantee prescribed application amounts that minimize costs and
environmental effects. New de-icing products, that are safer and more effective,
are always under consideration as suggested by the Ohio Department of
Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.
To control drifting snow, nearly
30,000 feet of snow fence will be erected along roadways that traditionally
experience high winds. In agricultural areas, the engineer’s office will
conduct its 13th annual program to encourage farmers to leave their
partial cornstalks. When left uncut one to two feet above the ground, they are
effective in helping to prevent snowdrifts.
During past winters, cornstalk
protected roads had considerably fewer snow drift hazards than those that were
unprotected. This season, cornstalks will protect nearly 75,000 feet of roadway.