Motorists might be seeing green in more ways than one this winter, thanks to the Ohio Department of Transportation.
First is with new multi-colored lights on snowplows. Green strobe lights are being added to the standard white and amber lights, not as holiday decorations, but to reduce the number of collisions with snowplows.
Ohio has four times the number of rear-end crashes into snowplows as neighboring states. Since studies have shown that green lights are more easily detected than other colors, they have been added to the plows to increase their visibility, according to Brent Kovacs, ODOT information officer.
Tribune Chronicle / Margaret A. Thompson
New green lights have been installed on ODOT?trucks.
Ohio will be the first state with the mandated green lights now required by Gov. John R. Kasich's Mid-Biennium Review.
About five of the district's 151 snowplows have been converted at a cost of $2,000 each. Brent said the department hopes to have all of the plows converted by this time next year.
While ODOT may be spending more money on snowplows they are seeing more green with close to $10 million savings on salt statewide.
Kovacs said this is the result of a new bid process that allowed salt companies to place bids on entire ODOT districts, rather than county-to-county as in years past. District 4, which is responsible for treating and plowing more than 5,000 lane miles, includes Trumbull, Ashtabula, Mahoning, Portage, Stark and Summit counties.
As a result of the new bidding, District 4 will be paying $37.13 per ton of salt. This is less than the statewide average of $40.91 and far less than last year's state average of $54 per ton.
What's more, ODOT expects to purchase 209,000 fewer tons this year since large stock piles of salt are left over from last year's mild winter.
Kovacs said the district also is looking into using brine to de-ice bridges and roads. The brine, a mixture of 2.5 pounds of salt to one gallon of water, is created with the department's brine mixers.
Kovacs said the less expensive option gives the department several advantages to pretreat roads and bridges before an impending snow storm. The brine prevents a thin layer of frost from forming on bridges and keeps snow from bonding to the street surfaces, thus reducing slick road conditions. Kovacs said research into using brine that is a byproduct of oil and gas production is still in its infancy stages.