ODOT continues preparations for first major snowfall of the year

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — As Northeast Ohio braces for the first major snowstorm of the season, officials with the Ohio Department of Transportation say crews will be focused on keeping the roads clear.

“It was coming eventually, we’ve had our nice days, but this is Cleveland, Ohio,” said one driver in Lakewood.

Ready or not, winter weather has arrived in Northeast Ohio.

ODOT road crews spend Monday loading up trucks with salt, preparing to clear snow from the highways. More than 300 plows will be on duty from Erie to Ashtabula to Stark Counties and places in between.

“Just because you don’t see us doesn’t mean we’re not there, we could be a couple miles in front of you or a couple miles behind you, or, if you happen to see one of our trucks, please give them plenty of room to work, they’re driving very large trucks, they have a bit of restricted field of vision,” said ODOT spokesperson Amanda McFarland.

“I hope they have the freeways clear and the streets kind of clear, I know they won’t have the side streets clear, but as long as they have the freeways clear, it should be kind of good,” she said.

ODOT drivers will work in 12 hour staggered shifts to tackle the storm that’s expected to last until Wednesday morning.  It will start out as a general snow, then will target communities in the snowbelt.

“The great thing about ODOT is, we’re extremely flexible and if it does start to hit one area harder than another, we can shift some resources to that area being hit harder to help out,” McFarland said.

State highway officials estimate traffic is down 15 to 20 percent from last year because more people are working from home due to the pandemic.

“With the traffic levels being decreased, some of the vehicle speeds have been a lot faster than what we’ve seen historically. Tomorrow is not the day to keep that trend going. So we know in inclement weather, especially snow, everything takes longer, acceleration, slowing down, making turns,” said Sgt. Ray Santiago with the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Since it is the first big snow of the season, ODOT reminds drivers, leave early, take it slow and be patient.

“I moved here from Seattle, so we don’t get a lot of snow out there … I’m fine with driving in it, I grew up in a place where there was a lot of snow,” said another driver.

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