Ohio cities criticized for snow-removal efforts

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CINCINNATI (AP) -- A mostly dry day Friday across much of the state gave road crews a chance to catch up amid gripes from Ohioans about what they see as slow responses to getting side streets cleared after winter's latest blast of snow and ice this week.

The city of Cleveland reported that 99 percent of residential streets had been plowed, either "curb to curb or around parked cars" as of late Friday morning. The city of Columbus said a fleet of trucks and tractors, augmented by private contractor vehicles, was clearing roads and would continue working into the night Friday.

Columbus city schools decided to close for the third straight Friday, blaming snow-covered secondary streets. Many schools around the state had multiple closings again this week.

Forecasters say some Ohio areas could get relatively light snowfalls this weekend.

There was plenty of criticism in the aftermath of a storm that dumped more than 10 inches of snow Tuesday night and Wednesday in the capital city area. But Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman defended the city's snow-removal efforts, saying: "I can't make everything right for everybody."

Residents of major cities and several outlying areas voiced complaints. A Cleveland man said he was unable to leave his house for two days.

Local officials say they are facing unusually demanding conditions, and some are a little weary of residents complaining about getting streets plowed, then that the plows left snow piles blocking their driveways. This week's snow was topped in many areas by ice, as temperatures plunged into single digits, making removal more difficult.

"It was a lot harder to clean up -- and I've heard this from more than one jurisdiction -- than what we thought it would be," said Ron Ripperger, public works director for Delhi Township, west of Cincinnati. "Because of the temperature, the ice, the snow and the rain, it was very difficult to plow."

"When I was shoveling, the initial ice layer was the toughest thing for me," said Charles Bazeley, a Cincinnati resident who said the road crews overall have done a good job this winter. "I could see it being the same thing for them."

Local officials say salt supplies are running out in some areas after what is shaping up as the harshest winter in Ohio in two decades.

"Everyone is low (on salt)," said Hamilton County Engineer Ted Hubbard. In the hilly western Hamilton County community of Cleves, officials said they could be out of salt after more snow expected this weekend.

The Ohio Department of Transportation says it is trying to buy more road salt to help communities facing shortfalls.

"It takes time," said Public Service Director Dave Duritsch in Kettering, a Dayton suburb. "All we can do is ask residents to be patient."