Air-regulated snow plow blades create fewer potholes

Mariana Silva

The city of Kent expects to use less salt and prevent potholes this winter thanks to changes in snow plowing methods.

The plows used by the city, which were already equipped with steel-edge blades, now use air bags that regulate pressure on the pavement, Director of Public Service Eugene Roberts.

Being located slightly above the ground, steel-edge blades are capable of scrapping the pavement closer and with more pressure than rubber ones, reducing the amount of salt the city spends in the winter season.

“We’ve been able to cut back in our salt usage because we are able to scrape with the steal edge all the way down to the pavement,” Roberts said.

Because steel edge blades are also heavier, Roberts explained they were more likely to cut the pavement and create potholes.

Katy Scott, a sophomore secondary education major, who commutes from Ravenna to Kent, said potholes combined with traffic always make her 10-minute commute longer during the winter.

“Even though it is only 10 minutes, it still is difficult because I like to go through Summit (Street), but Summit isn’t completely plowed.” Scott said. “That’s the difficult part, it’s hitting the potholes.”

The new plow should prevent this from happening by controlling the weight of the blade better.

“By being able to adjust up and down the plow, with some degree of accuracy, we can get the maximum of snow out with the mechanical device, the blade, therefore using less salt, which is the most costly next to labor,” Roberts said.

The first places to be cleaned every year are main access routes, school zones, bridges and the downtown area, followed by residential areas and neighborhoods.

Roberts said the city will continue using a mix of water and salt, to pretreat the roads before cleaning. The city plans to maintain enough salt to clean the roads, an amount that may vary between 8,000 and 15,000 tons per season, at $43 a ton.

Roberts said the city can have up to 11 trucks and 22 workers removing the snow. Some other city employees have commercial driver licenses and can work if necessary.

“We are as ready as we can be,” Roberts said.

Kent and the Ohio Department of Transportation have been working together to assure efficiency when removing the snow both within the city’s corporate boundaries and state routes, which are normally cleaned by the ODOT, with the exception of parts of state Route 261.

“We are completely stocked and ready to go,” said ODOT District 4 spokeswoman Christine Myers about this year’s salt supply.

Myers said the department encourages drivers to avoid distractions and learn about their vehicles’ capabilities in the winter season. She added that drivers should keep a distance from both other drivers and vehicles removing snow from the road.

Contact Mariana Silva at [email protected].