Quiet season turns busy for ODOT

MAUMEE, Ohio (WTVG) - From Wednesday evening to Friday morning, Toledo saw about four inches of snow pile up. But thanks to ODOT plow drivers, it was tough for that snow to pile up on the roads.

More accumulating snow is likely this weekend, and plow drivers are ready for the next round.

Eric Schlegel has been plowing interstates for nearly a decade. So he says he’s very familiar with the winters of northwest Ohio. But he said, "It can be stressful. It can be exciting. Mostly stressful. You have these people with 4-wheel drive vehicles that think they can go 800 miles an hour, but they can't stop any better than anybody else."

And Schlegel drives among the fastest drivers: on the interstates. He drives I-475 and U-S 23.

"I do from Salisbury to the Michigan line, then from the split over to Secor," he said.

A 16-mile stretch of interstate, he says it’s the biggest route the Maumee ODOT garage covers. And he says he enjoys it.

“You just go," he said. "You don't have to worry about red lights or mailboxes."

It's been a quiet winter, so 12-hour shifts have been rare. In fact, Schlegel can count the 12s he's worked this season on one hand. Compare that to one of the busiest winters he can remember.

"A few years ago, I think we did 40. Forty days in a row of 12-hour shifts," he said. "That was back when we had that really bad winter, I don't know if it was 2013 or 2014, maybe.”

And if you think it takes a lot for a person to do all that work, he says it’s a lot of a truck, too.

"During an active storm, I'll go through at least two tanks (of gas) a day, and that's a 60-gallon tank,” he says. “When you're pushing and hauling a lot of weight, it goes through a lot of diesel fuel."

He estimates his truck gets 3 or 4 miles per gallon. And in an industry driven by the weather, his own get-up-and-go has to be quick.

"Sometimes you get that weather that blows in unexpectedly, and you just drop what you're doing and come in," he said.

Schlegel says that managers try to give plow drivers a few days' notice if they're going to be assigned 12-hour shifts for a snow event. As of this morning, he was waiting to hear if he would be called in for this weekend.