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Ice and snow made for slick roads and cautious driving last week as Grant County saw its first winter storm of the season.
While kids sledding or building a snowman seemed to be nonexistent with the frigid temperatures and hard ground, snow plows and salt trucks patrolled the street at every turn.
“The snow wouldn’t have been that much of a problem, but we had that freezing rain and ice,” said Steve Tatum, Grant County road supervisor. “When that froze to the road, that gave us a lot of problems. You have to wait until the temperature comes up to where the ice will soften where you can pry it off. We’ve just been constantly plowing and salting.”
During the four days of inclement weather, the county used eight trucks and 800 to 1,000 tons of salt, sand and cinders, Tatum said.
Clearing off the roads in subdivisions proved to be the most difficult because of the high volume of traffic, he said.
The up to 52 tons of salt used by the city of Dry Ridge to treat 34 miles of streets and sidewalks has already been replenished, said Bobby Robbins, city maintenance supervisor.
Robbins worked about 56 hours last week to make sure that road conditions were drivable.
“Tuesday (Jan. 27) morning was the worst when it started so hard you couldn’t hardly see what was going on,” he said. “Then, you had traffic out and that doesn’t give us enough space to get our job done.”
“It was the way it came down,” Robbins said. “It would come down heavy in snow and then we had a little bit of ice. We put down some salt and then the snow started. We got it scrapped off and then the sleet started. We put salt down on it and it was one thing after another. What makes it real hard is people scrapping their driveways and stuff out into the road and we got to go back and scrap that off. When people run over it, it packs it in real hard.”
Three trucks started treating Williamstown roads around 1 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 27, and crews continued to work 14-hour shifts around the clock.
In all, about 150 tons of salt was used, said Mark Courtney, Williamstown street superintendent.
“We just have to keep pushing and putting salt down and finding places to pile the snow up so we don’t block people’s driveways,” he said. “Tree limbs were falling so we had to push them out of the way. We didn’t have a whole lot because most of them were falling in people’s yards. So, it wasn’t too bad.”
Seven Kentucky Transportation Cabinet road contractors, along with four trucks exclusive to Grant County, helped clear Interstate 75 from Sadieville to 71/75 split and other state routes.
Kentucky budgeted $38 million statewide for salt, snow removal, overtime, contract crews and maintenance, said Nancy Wood, public information officer for Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, District 6.
“The ice was a major obstacle,” she said. “That brought hazardous road conditions and made it a lot harder on all of our drivers.”
The KTC crews used more than 2,000 tons of salt in Grant County in a four-day span.
Clogged drains and downed trees added to the difficulties for road workers, Wood said.
“We’d push the ice and snow off and it would cover up the drain,” she said. “Then, water would pour out onto the roadway. Our drivers were multi-tasking. They had to plow out some drains.”
If the workers could not push fallen tree branches and limbs off the roadway, Wood said they would have to use a chainsaw to cut and remove them.
“Our state maintenance workers work in a lot of extreme conditions,” she said. “We appreciate people’s patience as we try to get the roads clear as possible for travel.”