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Road Crews Gear Up for More Winter Weather and Overtime

Updated: Tuesday, February 4 2014, 10:34 AM CST
Drivers and road crews are gearing up for this next blast of
winter weather. Officials in Shelby County worry ice will be a big concern for Wednesday,
after a coating of slick weather on the weekend and several inches of
additional snowfall on the way.

"This has been one of the worst winters in quite a
while," County Engineer Alan Spesard said.

Since ice is a possibility for some areas, the Shelby County
Highway Department is loading up trucks with a mix of salt and sand. Since they
cover more than 200 miles of roads, that mix will only be used on key areas
like intersections, hills, sharp curves, and railroad tracks.

"Ice is the worst thing. We would much prefer to have
snow than ice. It's something we can deal with, snow. And ice we don't have a
very effective method to deal with," Spesard said.

The threat of more ice and snow is sending customers to the
Ace Hardware Store in Shelbyville. Employees say bags and
buckets of ice melt have been continuously moving this winter, since
customers are taking their advice.

"Be prepared. Have ice melt on hand, keep your shovel
by the back door," Ace Hardware employee Linda Shoemaker said.

While many central Illinois residents are checking the garage
for snow shovels and salt, road crews in Shelby County will be checking their
equipment and filling trucks with supplies. They just need space to get their
job done tomorrow.

"Stay behind the driver. Don't pass them," Spesard advises.

Keeping the roads clear in Shelby County is making a big
dent in the county's budget. Spesard says the department has already spent more in overtime than recent memory recalls, and winter isn't nearly over.

While local, county, and state road crewsare seeing green in the white
stuff in the form of overtime pay, local governments are looking at
their budgets.

So far, Sangamon County Engineer Tim Zahrn tells
us, the county has already paid out 90 percent of its overtime budgeted
for the year. But he believes they can make it through the next few days
without pushing that number much higher.

Zahrn says the worst
is supposed to happen during the work week, which cuts down on overtime
costs. So far, their trucks have been out 24 times this winter, compared
to just 13 last year.

"We're early enough in our budget year,"
Zahrn said. "The county's starts on December 1. So that usually carries
us through the winter. And then we can adjust toward the back side of
our budget if we need to. Obviously we do watch those things very
closely, but at the same time, we're pretty confident that we'll be able
to take care of it with our budget."

Zahrn tells us so far this
year, the county has used 3,700 tons of salt mix on roads. The average
is 4,400 tons, and the maximum used in a year stands at 6,000 tons.

Zahrn said the county started the season with 5,500 tons because of a surplus from last year's relatively mild winter. Road Crews Gear Up for More Winter Weather and Overtime

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