As winter weather keeps students out of school and even adults out of work at time, one job is guaranteed to have workers busy, no matter what.
From when the sun come up and back down again, DOH workers work 12 hours a day, as they prepare roads for safe travel. Those proactive measures consist of more than just your average salt alone, to combat below-freezing temperatures.
“The salt and the chips or the salt and the cinders. That mix will work 20 to 15 degrees. That’s about as low of a temperature that that mix will work, but we still put it down because essentially when the temperatures come back up the following day, anything above 15 or 20 degrees, it’s there. We have it on the road, and it will start working after that.” said Bill Lamb, highway administrator of Harrison County Division of Highways office.
However, the work even starts prior to the gravel-like mixture, as Lamb and Pernell took 12 News to where the true magic happens, the computerized Brine Production Machine that produces a daily average of 14,000 to 20,000 gallons of brine a day.
“The road temperature has to be at least 40 degrees before this can be applied, hence what it does, it gets applied on the road, it evaporates. That’s why you see little white lines on the highway, on 50 and 79.” said William Pernell, TW3 crew chief of the Harrison County Division of Highways office.
The machine is manned continuously, as the mixture balances the salt to water ratio to 23.2% to 23.4% brine for proper pre-treatment use. This allows the chemical to keep workers ahead of the game.
“What that does it pretreats the roads, so when the snow does get on the road, the water and snow melts with the pretreat and activates the brine water, which gives us at least a six hour head start and saves us time and energy, as far as our guys working.” said Pernell.
Lamb says with the cold temperatures naturally giving machines and workers a fight, all DOH employees continue to work hard to keep you safe this season.
“They work seven days a week, or whatever it takes to get the roads cleared off, and our equipment have a lot of abuse to them. Our men have a lot of abuse. They work extremely hard to make the county roads safe.” said Lamb.
“All roads are important to us. No road is not important. We try to get to every road, but our main routes like 279 for example because it is the direct line to the hospital. Then routes 19, 20, 57 because those are main arteries into the county. Those are our main in-and-out routes that we try to get to first. After that we then we move on to the inner roads and from there we move on to our rock based roads. Sometimes that takes a day or two or even two to three days to get to them, especially when temperatures are really cold outside because it takes the mix so long to melt it off,” Lamb continued.