MASON COUNTY — Just a few days into the new year, Mother Nature decided to hit the area with snow, ice and freezing temperatures.
The local West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) garage was prepared for the worst and used between 450-500 ton of salt during the snow event this week.
According to Mason County DOH Supervisor Ernie Watterson, after this latest snow, around 300 ton of salt was left and more would be arriving on Saturday in anticipation of more snow and bitter temperatures next week.
Watterson said his garage has 15 trucks, including those with salt spreaders and snow plows to help keep the roads clear this winter. The local state garage also has three road graters at its disposal. Workers are on 12 hour shifts from 7 to 7 during theses types of weather events.
Protocol dictates the state must take care of certain roads first - typically federal and state roads that see the most traffic. In Mason County, roads which are to be treated first (in no particular order) are U.S. 35, W.Va. 62, 2 and 87. There are also “feeder routes” like Sandhill Rd., Jerrys Run, Ashton-Upland Rd., and many more which are on the list for treatment.
Cities and towns have the jurisdiction and responsibility to keep small side streets in their corporation limits clear.
The City of Point Pleasant began this winter with 56 ton of salt on hand. This week, five ton of salt was used and another eight ton during a preceding snow event. This leaves the city with 43 tons of salt. This was the first time in three winters the city had to reorder salt. Workers with the street department focus on clearing intersections, school zones, hills, bridges, parks and other places which present obvious danger. Point Pleasant has two pickups which spread salt with one having a plow. In addition, the city has a Mule ATV rigged with a salt spreader and plow and it has a plow available to attach to a dump truck if needed.
Darlene Roach at Mason city building, said that one city worker driving a truck equipped with a plow had been out since the early hours of Friday. As of 8 a.m. Friday, major Mason roads were clear, although side streets were still somewhat icy and snow-packed.
Side streets in both New Haven and Hartford remained snow-covered all morning as well.
According to New Haven Treasurer Janet May, the town has two trucks with plows and spreaders for salt distribution, and as many as four or five workers available to clear snowy streets.
“Back streets are mostly untreated,” May said, “But our guys have been busy clearing the main roads. By 7 a.m. the main road was clear.”
“We usually have two people working at a time, but If we need more help we can call for more,” May added.
In Hartford on Friday, town workers had cleared the major thoroughfares, and concentrated on particularly snowy or icy spots, especially those at the tops of hills.
With more snow and bitterly cold temperatures expected starting Sunday night or Monday morning, it’s likely city road crews will be up and at it again early next week.