Cincinnati down a 3rd of its salt truck drivers as a consequence of COVID-19

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The city of Cincinnati is preparing for another round of snow and ice this weekend after police reported more than 37 car accidents Wednesday night through Thursday morning.

The crews are due to start reporting on Saturday evening at 7 p.m., spokeswoman Holly Stutz Smith told The Enquirer. The crews will work 12-hour shifts “for the duration of the winter event”.

“As shown, the weather conditions on Thursday are mixed and in preparation for the Cincinnati Department of Public Service, the company is ready to adjust its personnel and operational plans accordingly,” the city officials wrote in a statement.

It took longer than expected to clear the snow. Cincinnati police called it “smoother than Clark Griswald’s non-chlorine silicon-based kitchen lubricant” due to staffing problems at the city’s Department of Public Services. A third of the city’s salt truck drivers suffer from a COVID-19-related illness or exposure quarantine, Smith said.

“With the standard compliment of 70 drivers currently down to 47 drivers due to COVID-19-related illnesses or exposure quarantine, the staff shortage has had an impact on our pace,” the city said in a statement. “However, DPS is working within its resources to treat dangerous roads as quickly as possible. We value the public’s patience in dealing with the changing road conditions.”

This weekend, Cincinnati will have 54 CDL snow trucks and 23 CDL pickups with snow plows attached for snow removal, Smith said.

The city activated its snow response efforts at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, and the streets were pre-treated with rock salt.

However, these methods proved ineffective when wet snow began to fall around 6 p.m., washing away the pretreatment and freezing it again at the 20-degree temperatures. This left roads and bridges icy and slippery for drivers on Thursday morning.

At 9 a.m. on Thursday morning, Cincinnati police were still listing traffic problems across the city: A vehicle drove into a building, a police cruiser was hit and a water pipeline break was taken caused cars to get stuck in the ice.

Police started a car accident reporting process requiring drivers involved in non-injured accidents to share information and, if possible, to report the incident to one of the police districts. This procedure was overturned on Thursday after 8 p.m.

Multiple school districts closed, virtual for the day or delayed start times Thursday and Friday due to slippery roads.

The city workers treated the streets in the region all Thursday and introduced calcium chloride in addition to rock salt.

The National Meteorological Service predicts a 100% chance of precipitation on Saturday evening, with 1 to 3 inches of snow accumulation possible. Greater amounts of snow are expected in Dayton and further north. Snow will be forecast until Monday.

Cincinnati Weather:1 to 3 inches of snow possible Saturday through Sunday

Police:The salt truck driver almost hit officers and threw salt on the cruiser while in pursuit

City officials posted a notice on Friday urging residents to exercise caution while driving during winter events.

“At low temperatures, slippery spots are possible in areas prone to black ice – including bridges, tunnels, hills and underpasses,” the statement said.

You can keep track of which streets in Cincinnati were cleared Cincy Insightswhich is updated every 10 minutes.

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