With winter officially here, area road departments are finding that they're well-prepared and well-stocked for the coming hazardous driving season.
Crews got a foretaste of what's to come with Friday's snow and high winds, but Saturday's milder weather gave them a chance to catch up. Roads in the East Liverpool area were wet and icy in spots but otherwise problem-free.
"We've been lucky so far," said Jim Witherow, Hancock County Highway Garage administrator.
The garage's eight trucks started treating roads at midnight Thursday with a mix of salt and cinders, Witherow said. It started snowing around 3 a.m. Friday, and since that time, crews have been patrolling and checking trouble spots, he said.
Hancock County crews treat the main highways first-state Routes 2 and 8, U.S. Route 30-and then the secondary roads-Washington School Road, Hardins Run Road, Frankfort Road, Rolling Acres Road and others, he said.
The biggest problem late Friday and early Saturday, Witherow said, was blowing snow and gusts of high wind.
Unlike Ohio, where townships and counties plow and treat their own roads, West Virginia roads are cleared by crews either from city street departments or the state Department of Transportation.
The Hancock County Garage on Route 8, administered by the Department of Transportation's Division of Highways, keeps on premises 1,400 tons of calcium chloride (salt), 3,000 tons of cinders, 1,200 gallons of liquid calcium and 600 bags of calcium flakes, Witherow said.
The usual mixture for road treatment is salt and cinders, but when temperatures get into the low teens, crews use a mix of flaked calcium and salt, he said.
Chester Mayor Ken Morris said last year's mild winter has been a blessing for city street departments. "We're in pretty good shape right now. The trucks are up and running, and there's plenty of salt," he said.
Chester has two trucks that carry plows and salt spreaders. They cover all the city streets and Carolina Avenue if necessary, he said. Because Carolina Avenue also is state Route 2, it is treated and plowed by the state.
Bill Hutchman, road crew supervisor for Liverpool Township, said township crews-two big trucks and a one-ton truck-were out late Friday night and early Saturday morning.
"We still have quite a bit of salt," he said. "We're working off what we had from last year."
The township also has contracted for a certain quantity of salt for this year if needed.