As we prepare for the snowy blast of winter to arrive, preparations at the ODOT garage in Morristown are ramping up.
25 trucks are ready to roll, with drivers each ready to take a 12-hour shift. Those trucks are literally loaded to the brim with salt and tanker trucks are filled with liquid brine.
Drivers said they are ready to roll out early in the morning and stay out for quite a while.
“Tomorrow’s going to be pretty crazy,” said ODOT administrative professional Kim Mercer. “Being a Saturday, and being that we’re pretty much spoiled from the nice weather. Now it’s going to snow and everybody will want to be somewhere right now!”
Mercer is ODOT’s communication with the outside world when the snow starts to fall.
“We get calls from the Patrol,” she noted. “We get calls from the public, and then I dispatch it out to the drivers.”
It’s the first significant snowfall of the winter, and they spent Friday in preparation mode.
18 drivers will start the first shift at 8:00 a.m. Saturday, about an hour before the snow is expected to hit.
The trucks are pretty much uniform, but the drivers are all different, so they set up their trucks to suit themselves.
“You’ll adjust the seat, the steering wheel, where the controls are for the plow,” said ODOT truck driver Cody Pritchard. “That way you’re not searching around, fumbling around in the dark. Everything’s right there.”
And the fact that it’s hitting on a Saturday is not a big deal, they say.
“No, we’re a 24-7 operation,” said Dave Schafer, ODOT manager. “And we’re out every day of the week if necessary so Saturday’s no different than any other day. Traffic might be a little bit heavier for us to work around but we’re prepared.”
Phillip Doudna, an ODOT driver, urged the driving public to stay back from the ODOT trucks and give them plenty of room to work. He said he has a wife and a brand new baby girl, and he wants to get home to them safe and sound.