County works to keep roads clear

More than 600 tons of salt used so far

By Cecilia Fox -

MIAMI COUNTY — Subzero temperatures may be over for now, but there is more snow and ice on the horizon for Miami County.

The Miami County Engineer’s Office and Highway Department is responsible for keeping 424 miles of county roads and 344 bridges passable in winter weather.

“So far this winter season, we have used 662 tons of salt, with the majority of that salt being mixed with ‘ice grits’ (crushed limestone) for improved traction,” County Engineer Paul Huelskamp said.

The county also stores and supplies salt and ice grits for 10 of the county’s 12 townships, as well as Upper Valley Medical Center and other smaller users, Huelskamp said. The Highway Department has a total capacity for 2,500 tons of salt storage and 1,000 tons of mix storage.

The department prepares for winter every year with a dry run day in the fall, Huelskamp said. Crews hook up all the plows and salters and run all of their routes to look for problems before the weather actually gets bad.

The county also prepares by putting cold weather additives in the fuel to keep the diesel from gelling in extremely cold temperatures, he added.

Huelskamp reminds drivers to keep a safe distance from snow plowing operations.

The engineer’s office also offers the following winter advice:

• Allow extra time to reach your destination.

• If you find yourself driving behind a snowplow, stay behind it until it is safe to pass. Remember that a snowplow driver has a limited field of vision. Stay back (15 car lengths) until you are sure it is safe to pass or until the plow pulls off the road.

• Drive for the conditions — slower speeds, slower acceleration, slower steering, and slower braking in the winter conditions.

• Use your headlights.

• Do not use cruise control.

• Four-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles will not stop or steer better in icy conditions.

• Leave extra room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. And remember, big trucks take longer to stop.

• Slow down when approaching intersections, roundabouts, bridges, or shady spots.

While it’s supposed to be warmer in the days ahead than last week’s severe low temperatures, a storm system will bring mixed precipitation this week, according to the National Weather Service. Since temperatures have been so cold for an extended period of time, any rain is expected to freeze as it makes contact with the ground.

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More than 600 tons of salt used so far

By Cecilia Fox

Reach Cecilia at

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