Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

January 23, 2014

Winter work can be one cold cycle

ASHLAND — Time does not stop for anyone. For those in public service, the show must go on — no matter the weather.

But without the constant vigilance of public workers, like road maintenance, sanitation collection, police enforcement and other services, many vital communal functions would be lost.

Allen Blair, information officer for District 9 of the State Transportation Cabinet, said crews transition into 12-hour rotating shifts during snowstorms and work continuously until all state roads are clear.

Blair said the snowstorm that came in late Monday brought in the highest snow accumulations of the season, calling for highway crews to begin working at midnight Tuesday.

The large trucks seen pushing slush off roads function as both snow plows and salt trucks.

But during crucial storm prep, Blair said the real challenge is in the chemistry, since salt will not stick to the roads without first mixing with accumulation to make a melting solution.

Another battle is sub-zero temperatures. The icy air that followed the storm Tuesday brought back Arctic air comparable to the chill brought in from the polar vortex last week. But contrary to many beliefs, salt is not a cure-all when temps plummet.

“The challenge for this storm was to get as many routes as possible clear before nightfall last night (Tuesday) because we knew temperatures would fall,” Blair said. “Salt solutions on roadways are limited by temperature; the closer to zero, the less effective it becomes.”

Since cold weather penetrated into Wednesday, relieved temporarily by the sun during midday, Blair said they continued to work on plowing main roads and lower priority roads like Ky. 1 and Ky. 5.

Scattered ice patches inevitably remain.

Although this winter has seen more snow than recent years, Blair said he does not predict the state-funded Cabinet will face salt deficits.

“In our 10 counties, we stockpile around 25,000 tons of salt,” he said. “That's what we have in our salt domes. During a typical storm, we only use a few thousand tons. We may use three or four thousand in storms lasting three-to-four days.”

If they do run dry, because of the vigorous plow, salt, plow, resalt cycle, Blair said they can always draw from the state’s main tavern in Louisville, or from county reserves.

For those workers laboring continuously to keep roads clear, Blair said the long shifts during winter are normal.

“It's really a profession. Professional drivers and equipment operators,” he said. “It takes dedication and teamwork, but part of our duty is to maintain these clear highways and get them clear for people who rely on them. That's our job.”

Duty does not stop at maintaining roadways. Local public servants, such as sanitation workers, have a duty to residents to collect solid waste no matter the weather.

Head of the Ashland Solid Waste Department, Jim Wheeler, said this week was especially challenging for sanitation crews with the holiday on Monday, causing them to play catch-up in the snow.

Wheeler said the most challenging part is actually retrieving the trash from residential receptacles.

“The hardest part is the terrain. You have to walk through different terrain and snow makes it harder,” he said. “Trash cans don’t want to roll in the snow and in the frigid temperatures, cans want to freeze. They’re made of plastic; plastic and cold don’t mix.”

LANA BELLAMY can be reached at lbellamy@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Boyd Democrats take floor at Elks

    Boyd County Democrats met at the Elks Lodge for a matchup between candidates for two of the hottest primary races in Boyd County: sheriff and judge-executive.
    The candidates, sponsored by the Boyd County Democratic Women’s Club, each took to the podium to face the crowd Tuesday night and discuss the candidacy and platforms for the race that is still over a month away.

    April 15, 2014

  • Shay receives 38 years for fatal shooting

    Casey R. Shay, 27, of Morehead, was sentenced Monday to 38 years in prison for the fatal shooting last year of Cassandra M. “Cassie” Owens, 21.

    April 15, 2014

  • 0416homegarden.jpg Space not problem with home garden

    Growing your own dinner is not a concept lost on Kenny Imel.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Greenup court jumpstarts road repairs

    As part of the Greenup County Fiscal Court’s annual expenses, the court approved the first reading of an ordinance that allots up to $1.5 million for blacktopping damaged county roads.

    April 15, 2014

  • Nursing home reports drug theft to APD

    Woodland Oaks Health Care Facility, 1820 Oakview Road, on Monday reported the theft of 30 hydrocodone tablets from a secured area within the nursing home.

    April 15, 2014

  • Devices left from previous construction discovered

    All four lanes of U.S. 23 were shut down for nearly two hours Tuesday following the discovery of old explosives on a hillside rock cut.
    The devices apparently were left over from a previous construction project and were discovered by a crew working on the new Ironton-Russell Bridge, Russell Police Chief Tim Wilson said.

    April 15, 2014

  • Boyd walk to raise awareness of autism

    The differences in the nine children in Carla Malone’s classroom are striking.
    A few can talk, but some won’t make a sound and others jabber apparent nonsense sounds.
    There are playful children and those who keep to themselves. Some of the children can read and do other academic tasks. Schoolwork for others means matching pictures and doing exercises to develop fine motor skills, like learning to hold a pencil.

    April 15, 2014

  • Grimes outpaces McConnell in first quarter

    Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes has again outpaced her likely Republican general election opponent, incumbent Mitch McConnell, in fundraising during the first quarter — but she remains well behind McConnell in total fundraising and cash on hand.

    April 15, 2014

  • 0416explosives0166 copy.jpg UPDATE: U.S. 23 reopened; explosives eliminated

    More information on the U.S. 23 closure from the the Kentucky Department of Highways.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • BREAKING: Explosives find shuts down U.S. 23

    All four lanes of U.S. 23 have been shut down to the discovery of undetonated explosives on a hillside, authorities said.

    April 15, 2014

Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP basketball
SEC Zone