ODOT clearing the roads ride along, not as easy as it seems

ODOT drivers hit the roads in full force late Friday night in preparation for the weekend snow storm.  There’s an estimated 80 trucks on the roadways with drivers pulling 12-hour shifts, but the job is not as easy as it seems.  

For a better look at what ODOT drivers face, NewsChannel5 went on a ride along with one driver, Gary Casteel who works out of the District 12, Old Grayton Road yard.

“This road is really, right now it’s in bad shape,” said Casteel taking us on 71-S towards Strongsville.  But Casteel’s been doing this for about 25-years now and is well versed in what applications to use, how much salt to use where and what lanes to plow when.

Still each year, Casteel said ODOT plow drivers face the same difficulties, other drivers.

“I got this big can opener in the front and they just try to get too close sometimes and they won't slow down,” said Casteel.  In some cases he said vehicles have actually slammed into snow plows misjudging their slower speeds.

ODOT Spokesperson Jocelynn Clemings said that's the main reason why truck lights were changed to green  yellow and white last year.

“This is what they do,” said Casteel as a sedan sped in-between his plow and another plow.  Both ODOT trucks were attempting to drive in tandem so they could clear two lanes in one pass. The other truck ahead of steel had its plow in the same direction of the sedan attempting to pass. 

“He could be slip and be sliding all over the place too.  He's giving me that snow now but that car get in the way so he's got to suffer until he gets around it,” said Casteel.

Snow removal is comparable to a juggling act: trying to clear the roads and protect drivers at the same time.  Casteel even said he’ll sometimes try to switch his plow to the other direction so cars don’t’ get slush thrown on their windshields.

When vehicles do give snow plows space, Casteel said, “It makes you feel good that you can open up the road for them people because otherwise, they'll be all over the road and you don't want that.”

But it will be a long night of trying to prevent this as crews continue working in 12-hour shifts driving in vehicles that offer not too smooth of a ride.

Casteel’s trick, lots of coffee, holiday music and Caribbean island CD!

ODOT encourages drivers to take a look at the roadways before they head out so they know what to expect. 

Traffic cameras and maps can be viewed here.

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