Covington’s Snow & Ice Team rested & ready

Trucks are loaded and ready to go. That’s municipal grounds worker Corey Lohstroh filling tanks with a brine solution earlier today.

With ‘nasty’ storm almost here, Public Works will do all it can to keep streets safe

COVINGTON, Ky. – The road salt dome is full (minus what’s been loaded into trucks). The trucks themselves have been outfitted with plows and salt “spinners.” Bridges and steep hills have been pre-treated with brine. A chipper truck is ready to take care of fallen limbs. And crews have been sent home to get rest before the wretched night ahead.

In other words, the Snow & Ice Team in Covington’s Public Works Department has done everything it can do to prepare for tonight’s winter storm.

And that storm is supposed to be nasty: Rain followed by ice and snow, with severe wind gusts, all amid a sudden and severe drop in temperatures.

“It’ll be way below zero with wind chills, and it’s going to come fast,” said General Maintenance Supervisor Troy McCain, who is acting as Public Works’ “snow commander” for this week. “This will be a fast-moving storm, with the rain and snow lasting a few hours – it’ll get in and get out – but then we’ll have to deal with the wind and bitter cold.”

Public Works administrators and supervisors met earlier this week and again this morning to plan the storm response.

Plows and other equipment were attached yesterday, and road salt was loaded into trucks – including big Freightliner and Kenworth T350 dump trucks, smaller Ford F550 dump trucks, and Ford F350 pickup trucks with V-boxes.

McCain said crews obtained as much of a calcium-based liquid called Better Brine as they could from the state Highway Department earlier today, then spent the morning treating bridges and steep hills.

The first shift of the Snow & Ice Team will return at 8 p.m. to spread a layer of salt on the streets and roads to help prevent the coming ice and snow from bonding with the road surface.

“It’s better to attack it from the bottom up than from the top down,” he said of the frozen accumulation.

That’s especially true given that road salt loses its effectiveness as the temperature moves toward the single digits.

McCain said the Snow & Ice Team is hampered by illness right now, and – as is the case every year – this will be the first winter storm for a handful of newcomers. It’ll also be the first storm “fought” from Public Works’ new complex at 1730 Russell St.

But Public Works Director Keith Bales – himself new to the department – said residents can go to sleep tonight with confidence.

“You know these guys are outstanding at what they do and always organized, so they will do their best,” Bales said. “You can be sure of that.” 

How residents can help

  • Don’t plow or shovel driveways and sidewalks into the street.
  • Park as close to the curb as you can, especially on narrow streets.
  • Try not to park at the bottom of a steep hill, or – in a heavy storm where trucks are equipped with plows – close to an intersection on a narrow street.
  • Stay clear of plow trucks and don’t tailgate them.
  • Report problem areas, but remember that some of the larger roads in Covington are actually state routes on which the City shares maintenance responsibilities with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.