HC Roads Dept. working hard to get roads clean

Jake Hotchkiss, Henry County Engineer, is preparing for fiscal year 2021, July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, by looking at what equipment needs to be replaced and purchased.

During a Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 5, supervisors approved the purchase of a 2019 Caterpillar 12M3 Motor Grader for $245,356, after trade-in. Hotchkiss said the equipment in the Roads Department is on a 10-year cycle. After 10 years in the field, machines are used as spares before eventually being replaced.

Last week, the low temperatures kept equipment and crews indoors for a couple of days.

They mixed salt and sand for forecast snow, dealt with drifting snow, went over routes, checked pavements and cleaned bridges.

On Wednesday, Jan. 30, with temperatures reaching up to 50 below, staff worked on maintenance items. On Thursday, territory operators began cutting holes in windrows to prepare for snow melting during forecast warmer temperatures.

This week, the county is experiencing a lot of soft gravel roads with the quick thaw, Hotchkiss said. It froze hard Monday night, Feb. 4, allowing crews to close up ruts where they could and spot rock.

“There’s not a lot of mud popping up, just the top three or four inches (of gravel) is pretty thawed out with all the melting we had,” Hotchkiss said.

Crews were preparing on Tuesday for the forecast freezing rain. Hotchkiss said they will work on picking up ice to the best of their ability on Wednesday, Feb. 6.