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As big melt winds down, C.O. road cleanup continues


The snow is melting, but the clearing continues. ODOT crews are out sweeping up cinders, hauling them back to their storage units and preparing it for recycling.

“The crews that are sweeping are also the crews putting it down, and so if we get snow that comes down, they have to kind of switch modes back to laying it out instead of picking it up,” ODOT spokesman Peter Murphy said Friday.

The department recycles 100 percent of the volcanic cinders.

“What we basically do is we get them back, we sweep them up and we put them back on the highway, and use them as fill for shoulders,” Murphy said.

They break down too much after being driven over to be used for the snow again, so they are repurposed.

“We’ve used them for bridges before the run-up for ramps to bridges, and so cinders can actually be a good thing for the highway,” he said.

There will be plenty to work with this year. ODOT used about 50 percent more cinderd this winter than last. They used 24,000 cubic yards on Central Oregon’s 800 miles of highway in 2016 and 37,000 so far this year.

Murphy said the amount of cinders used so far this winter would be enough to cover an entire 100-yard football field 21 feet deep.

He also said they spent $890,000 on cinders last year and $1.35 million this year.

Cleanup crews have their work cut out for them.

“We’ll be out for a couple of weeks, making sure what we have put down has come back up. It’s one of those situations where what goes down has to come up,” Murphy said.

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