Mild winter saves state money on salt, ODOT overtime hours

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CLEVELAND (WJW) – The Ohio Department of Transportation salt domes remained filled with salt as rain fell Tuesday while unusually mild winter weather continued across Northeast Ohio.

From December through February, temperatures have averaged 35.8 degrees in Cleveland. That’s nearly six degrees above average over the last 20 years, making this the fourth-warmest winter on record. Snowfall in Cleveland so far this season has totaled about 30 inches compared to an average snowfall of 65 inches during the time period.

The Ohio Department of Transportation said the mild weather has led to savings on salt and overtime hours for response to winter weather.

“The money will definitely be used in other areas of our operations,” said the ODOT Northeast Ohio spokesperson Amanda McFarland.

According to data provided by the agency, ODOT has used about 402,000 tons of salt statewide through March 1, a decrease of 41 percent from the 680,000 tons used during the same period last season. ODOT has used 193,000 tons of salt across 17 counties in Northeast Ohio, down 23 percent from last season.

McFarland said the decrease in salt usage and overtime hours for winter response has resulted in a $34 million reduction in spending winter response statewide.

“What that’s given us is an opportunity to do more things outside of snow and ice operations during these winter months and during these mild temperatures,” McFarland said.

She said crews have been able to focus on other maintenance work including guard rail and sign repair. The agency also anticipates fewer potholes this spring.

“If the weather continues to stay warm like this, I think we’re not going to see the spike in the potholes because the pavement has just not been frozen and thawed and frozen and thawed so many times this winter,” McFarland said.

ODOT said lingering salt stockpiles in communities statewide may also reduce demand and result in lower salt prices next winter.

“We’re going to have plenty of salt here at our ODOT facilities at the end of this winter and leading into next,” McFarland said.

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