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UP TO THE MINUTE: Snowfall, drifts cover county roads

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Continually falling snow and increasing wind speeds created some frustration for workers with the Clay County highway Department Thursday.

"We've had a couple instances where we would plow an intersection, only to have to come back to it a couple hours later because of the drifting," Clay County Highway Superintendent Pete Foster told The Brazil Times. "In conditions like these, it is a constant battle to keep the roads as clean as possible, but a major difference can't really be made until the snow stops falling and the winds die down."

Foster added the department spent the majority of Thursday morning and early afternoon laying down a salt/sand mix -- mainly at intersections -- to help maintain drivable roads and increase traction.

"We also are placing the mix in areas where there is a hill that may cause problems and sharp curves," he said.

Light snow began to fall around the Wabash Valley around 1:30 a.m., and was anticipated to keep falling until early Saturday morning, but winds stayed relatively calm until about noon when they rose to between 15-20 mph, gusting as high as 28 mph.

As of 3 p.m., the majority of Clay County had received approximately 2 inches of snowfall, while Clay City had received 2.5 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

The limited number or workers at the Highway Department also creates an additional struggle when it comes to making sure all of the roads in Clay County are safe to drive on.

"We don't have enough people to have two different crews, but we try to have 10 or 11 people going as much as we can without overworking them," Foster said. "Right now, we have four plow trucks -- with another one in the shop -- and two road graders to help keep the snow off the roads."

Foster wanted to assure residents the roads are navigable, but it is important to be patient and cautious.

"Although the roads are a little slick, people can still get around," he said. "I realize the weather creates an inconvenience of sorts, but residents just need to give themselves plenty of time, be cautious and slow down, and they will be able to get where they are going."

With between 650-700 miles of county roads to maintain, Foster said the Highway Department gets assistance when trying to locate the most troublesome spots.

"The Clay County Sheriff's Department does a great job in helping us out by notifying our guys about locations where snowdrift has covered roads and intersections," he said. "We do the best we can with the people we have, so it is good to be able to work together and attempt to provide safer road conditions for residents."

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