A walk in the shoes of a Cole County salt truck driver

Cole County Public Works loads up its trucks with salt Tuesday to keep the roads safe.

All 470 miles of Cole County's roads will be clear after Tuesday's storm, thanks to the efforts of the Cole County Public Works.

However, plowing out hundreds of miles of paved and unpaved roads is a full time, round-the-clock task. Cole County Public Works director Larry Benz said it can't happen without a dedicated team and a constant eye on the snow.

"We started out pretty rough this morning," Benz said. "It cleared off, we were able to get ahead of it and get the roads cleared again, but then the next wave came in. We're back to fighting the battles again."

Public Works used 26 massive salt trucks to keep the roads free of snow Tuesday. Intermittent snow throughout the day made the workday unpredictable for the facility's salt truck drivers.

Tony Hagerman, who drives a salt truck, said a lot of preparation goes into making the county's roads drivable. "The Public Works gives me an estimate of how much salt I should use, based on the type of snow," Hagerman said. "Today, we're going to spray out 300 pounds of salt per road mile."

A computer inside each salt truck controls how much salt and chemicals are dispersed.

"I've been doing it for about six years now, so it isn't that big of a deal to me anymore," Hagerman said. "People who don't do it every day though might have a hard time."

Hagerman said drivers like him receive a lot of thanks from the county's residents, who would otherwise have no way to get to work or drive on roads.

"If somebody weren't out here cleaning them, there would just be a lot of wrecks," Hagerman said.

As a salt truck driver, Hagerman said he has learned a few things over his six years of driving. He mentioned some people get upset when plows push snow back into people's driveways. "I would recommend shoveling the snow in your driveway to the left or right of it, on the side that our truck will pass after it passes your driveway," Hagerman said. Doing that, he said, will prevent that situation from happening.

As the first line of defense against the snow, Hagerman faces numerous hazards along the way.

"Cars that are slid off in the ditch or sideways, usually they're on a hill or in a blond spot, that's the worst," Hagerman said.

After the storm settles, however, all of the county's roads will be in good condition once again.