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Ohio Turnpike prepares plows for winter

Last winter, crews responded to 54 winter storm events, putting in more than 36,000 hours.

SWANTON, Ohio — Though it barely feels like fall, the Ohio Turnpike is already getting ready for the winter season.

Northwest Ohio shouldn't see snowy conditions for at least another month, but the road maintenance crews of the Ohio Turnpike had their snow plows up and running on Tuesday.

It was their annual snow and ice prep, where every plow in their fleet undergoes a 136-point inspection to make sure every piece of equipment is ready to take on the winter weather.

"Yeah, it's important so you don't really have to worry about it throughout the year and to get your truck cleaned up and see that everything is working so you can get in and go, because sometimes you get called in in the middle of the night," Jeff Smigelski, a long time snowplow driver for the Ohio Turnpike said.

Last winter, turnpike crews responded to 54 winter storm events, putting in more than 36,000 hours and laying down 62,000 tons of salt to keep the major roadway open.

Many drivers are gearing up for those 12-hour shifts when called upon.

"It's really important to the Ohio Turnpike to keep this road clear and clean in the winter months, and we count on these trucks to do that, the operators count on these trucks to perform. So, it's the most important part of that link in the winter, it's the tool they have to go out and do their job," Ohio Turnpike Western Division Maintenance Superintendent Jeff Landel said.

Credit: Jon Monk
Each plow in the fleet receives a 136 point inspection, allowing for a month or so if repairs are needed.

As they prepare for the winter weather, representatives with the Ohio Turnpike ask that drivers prepare themselves as well, and be ready to help these plows do their jobs in the next coming months.

"Give us some room to work. When they're plowing with both plows down, they've got about 20 feet to plow on the road ahead of them. So, they need to be able to see a distance ahead of them for cars on the shoulder so we can get those wing plows pulled up if we have to quickly," Landel said. "Just give us room to work, because we're just out there to get you to where you want to be safely, and if you give us that room, that's our goal and we'll get it done for you."

As of Tuesday morning, there were still 10 open plow driver positions for the Ohio Turnpike. 

However, unlike the Ohio Department of Transportation, the Ohio Turnpike hires plow drivers full-time.