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Cold temperatures, ice complicate city's snow clearing efforts

Posted at 4:48 PM, Jan 21, 2019

CINCINNATI — Some Cincinnati residents who drove on local roads and walked on local sidewalks were surprised to still find snow and ice in their way Monday morning.

Dozens of crews have been working around the clock to clean up this weekend's snow and ice, but the cold temperatures that stuck around through Monday presented a challenge for residents, as well as salt and plow trucks.

Downtown resident Sam Johnson said walking on the sidewalk felt like walking on ice.

"These roads are a little dicey, so definitely, when I'm in the city, I'm going to take it a little slow," Johnson said.

Eric Hoang said he slipped just a few feet from traffic.

"It got the best of me," he said. "I was literally horizontal on the street."

Brian Haysbert has plowed streets for eight years. On Sunday, he drove about 130 miles to clear his Mount Auburn route.

"Group temperatures dropped, the wind chill went up, temperature went down," he said. "We had freezing rain before the snowfall, and that's a recipe to disaster."

But the plowing and salting wasn't working because of the ice, according to Haysbert.

"It was very cold out and there was ice underneath the snow," he said. "With snow having 3-4 inches, it'll compact that ice even more and make the ice harder to unthaw."

While trucks were able to go over the same streets just once or twice to clear the previous weekend's snowfall, this time they had to break down the ice, a much longer process, according to Jarrod Bolden, superintendent of traffic and road operations for the city.

"When you get temperatures that are this cold and you have ice, salt doesn't work alone, so you have to put calcium chloride and additives to the salt to make it more effective," he said.

In the past 12 hours, Cincinnati trucks have used more than 1,300 tons of salt on 3,100 lane miles. And even though it's Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the city has had the usual 74 drivers working 12-hour shifts.

Going forward, things should be easier thanks to the amount of treatment put on roads Sunday, Haysbert said.

"Today, a lot of stuff we've noticed is turning to slush," he said. "As we drive, you can see slush everywhere. That stuff can be plowed up. That's because we treated 24 hours nonstop."