Monday, January 7, 2008

Snow Removal

Thanks for the emails that have been coming in. I have received another email regarding snow removal in South Ogden. We tend to get a lot of phone calls here at the city after we get substantial snow so I figure some people ask themselves, "Are they ever going to plow the snow on my street?"

We do have a method to our madness when we remove (push) snow. First of all I'll start by clarifying a pretty major issue that can be confusing.

Two of the main streets that run through our city are Highway 89/Washington Blvd. and Harrison Blvd. Both of these streets are heavily used and are integral to South Ogden resident's ability to get around town. These streets are NOT pushed by South Ogden City. They are the responsibility of the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT). We are not allowed to push snow on those streets.

So now we'll answer some commonly asked questions when it comes to pushing snow.

Question: Why do the snowplows come by and plow in driveways, after they have already been by once before?

Answer: When we receive a large snowfall our initial efforts are to just keep the roads open. In most cases the width of the plow blades does not allow us to make just one pass and move the snow all the way back to the curb. Once the snow quits, we try and go back to widen the streets for mail delivery and better traffic flow.

In the case of the heavy snowstorms it could be up to 48 hours before we can get back to do the final cleanup. It is frustrating, as a homeowner and a driver, to have your driveway plowed in after you have cleaned it. Unfortunately, as the plow goes by, the snow is always dumped in the only opening which is the driveway.

Question: Why do the plows come by so late at night even on the weekends?

Answer: Our plows run totally dependent upon the snowfall, and the schedule of our staff. We have six snowplows to clear approximately 50 linear miles of road. We split our crews to avoid excessive overtime and to make sure that the drivers are not tired. Once again, this works well with a basic snowfall, but when we get large amounts in a quick period of time it slows everything down. It takes approximately 10-12 hours to plow the entire city.

In a heavy storm or back-to-back storms we sometimes have our crews working around the clock to move snow as fast as we can. At times by the time we've finished our first sweep we'll start again and the roads won't even look like a plow has touched it. When snow is heavy and wet we have a small window to move it before it freezes. Once the snow freezes it is impossible to move.

Question: Why does my street always seem to be the last one plowed?

Answer: In some instances, that will be the case. In the city, we have what we call priority routes. Priority one are those streets that are intensely used, such as collector roads and roads with excessive grade. Priority two are arterial streets that carry traffic to collector streets. Priority three would include all other residential streets in a typical subdivision. And finally, priority four would include cul-de-sacs and dead end streets.

During extreme snowfall, it takes every plow in the city 48 hours before we even get to the priority three and four streets. These are the times the seem to frustrate residents the most. Heavy snowfall seems to be an inconvenience to everyone and we do hope that we are a solution to the problem and not part of the problem.

Question: How come we never see any sand on the roads?

Answer: South Ogden City does not use a sand mixture. We use 100% road salt. Although sand is a bit less expensive, the cleanup in the spring and the damage from the sand ending up in the storm sewer system is extreme. We have also found that a pure concentration works much better in very cold weather.

Finally, I would just like to point out that our public works and parks crews take great pride in how our streets are taken care of. They are willing to work weekends, holidays (we had guys out pushing on Christmas Eve this year) or whatever it takes to get the job done. For the most part our citizens understand and appreciate that. We are willing to try to make improvements in order to do a better job, so if you feel like you have suggestions that might help please email me at