The Ohio Turnpike made its final preparations for the upcoming winter season recently, with comprehensive winter equipment inspections at its eight Maintenance Garages along the 241-mile mainline. An open house was held recently at the Swanton maintenance building to showcase the heavy equipment and meet Turnpike workers.
The Turnpike-wide, 135-point inspection of all snowplows and equipment takes place annually just before the first signs of winter weather.
“Turnpike customers expect a premium road to travel during the winter,” said Chris Matta, Maintenance Engineer for the Ohio Turnpike. “When required, crews will work 12-hour shifts seven days a week to provide customers with a safe and reliable route on the Ohio Turnpike.”
The top priority, especially during extremely heavy snowfall is clearing the right and center lanes on the Turnpike mainline. Then the crews focus attention on third lanes, interchanges, service plazas and shoulders.
Turnpike crews use multiple techniques and advanced equipment to battle winter snowstorms, including towplows. Towplows have the ability to clear and treat two lanes of traffic simultaneously while using only one truck. This is a tremendous benefit because it allows additional lane miles to receive attention in less time, saves fuel and creates fewer emissions.
Typically customers will see Turnpike trucks on the mainline performing tandem plowing, where two snowplows travel one behind the other to clear two lanes at the same time.
Another method sometimes performed is Echelon Plowing, which utilizes four or more snowplows closely staggered to clear all lanes of the Turnpike, including the shoulders, with one pass. This is typically required when a single heavy storm or multiple storms occur, which often causes excess snow to build up on the median wall.
The Ohio Turnpike is not subject to local Snow Emergencies and does not close during them.
It’s also important for customers to do their part in making travel safe for everyone. Simple steps to take: make sure your vehicle is road-ready, plan for extra travel time when necessary and always allow extra distance between vehicles.
Motorists should slow down, avoid distractions and drive according to the conditions of the road. They should be especially cautious on ramps, bridges and overpasses.
Motorists should avoid passing snowplows and allow extra space for the plow drivers to clear the road. “Our experienced and dedicated crews will be working hard to make sure customers have a safe driving experience on the Ohio Turnpike,” added Matta. “After all, the safest place to be on the road is behind a snowplow.”