The weather might not feel like it quite yet, but winter is coming and the city is prepared.
“We haven’t taken as much delivery of salt,” said Bob Scott, public works service and operations manager with the city.
Due to last year’s lighter than usual winter, the city had salt left over. The city keeps on hand about 1,300 tons in case of several ice and snow events during the course of the winter.
“The barns are full. We’ve taken a couple of deliveries,” added Public Works Director Doug Ahrens, saying the city reduced its salt purchase order through the state this year.
Scott said after checking every forecast, no one knows what the weather has in store. But the last couple of years, the city’s first ice and snow event hasn’t occurred until December.
Scott said the public works employees undergo training every year on snow plowing and other winter operations. For some it’s just a refresher training on everything, he said.
The employees also check out all trucks and plows and make any needed minor repairs. Scott said they make sure all spreaders and spinners are functioning and they go over all processes.
The city purchased two smaller trucks, which will be implemented this year into the plow routes.
“We’re looking at how the smaller trucks can get more maneuverability in residential areas …,” Scott said.
The trucks have an insertable poly spreader that goes in the bed of the truck to get the brine and salt action, he added.
“We’ll see how those do for us this year,” Scott said.
The city has 14 large trucks for snow plowing and six one-ton trucks for cul-de-sacs and dead-end streets.
All but one truck is able to do the brine — salt water solute with a little calcium chloride — and salt. The brine with the salt gets the melting action to happen much quicker that just the salt, Scott added.
Once a snow stops, it takes about 15-16 hours to plow the whole city, curb to curb.
“We try to make one pass through the city before the morning rush, at least a pathway,” Scott said.
Crews then wait until the snow stops for all plowing.
In addition to the 20 or so truck drivers, there also are one or two mechanics on hand if needed in a snow event and parks personnel help with cleaning up snow in the downtown area.
Scott said there are about 45 employees working during a particular snow event, with some people coming in for shifts.
Scott said the city has the same snow plow routes.
“We developed this over the last five or six years. They seem to cover everything in a precisely equitable amount of time,” he said.
Scott said whatever comes the city’s way this winter, “we’ll be on top of it.”
“We keep an eye out on the weather and we will be out there when we need to be,” he added.
They try to be proactive, Scott said.