Archive for Tuesday, December 27, 2011

City street department has supplies salted away for winter

December 27, 2011

Although it may have disappointed area children, Kent Heskett was happy Tonganoxie didn’t have a white Christmas.

The memory of the Christmas blizzard of 2009 is still fresh enough on the Tonganoxie public works supervisor’s mind to make him appreciate the current mild weather.

Two years ago, a Christmas blizzard — the first in a season filled with severe winter storms — dumped nearly a foot of snow on northeast Kansas. Heskett had not been promoted to his current position at that time, but he remembers during the worst of the storm, crews struggled to stay ahead of the heavy snow and accompanying high winds, which closed streets minutes after they had been opened.

By contrast, city crews have not been called on this season to remove snow, nor have they had to treat streets of icy conditions. With unseasonably mild weather forecast for the rest of the week, it appears the street department will get through the holiday season without putting its preparations into practice.

“Everything’s ready to go,” Heskett said. “We have 200 tons of both salt and sand. That should be enough to get us through the winter.”

Also ready to go is the fleet of two dump trucks with plows, the same number of plow-equipped pickups, a road grader and a front-end loader the city can mobilize if needed.

“If we have a bad one, we get every piece of equipment we have out,” Heskett said.

City plows hit the streets with any snowfall of 2 inches or more, Heskett said. Crews may be out treating roads before that threshold is realized if conditions merit, he said.

“We understand it will be slick, so we may go out and treat streets before the first 2 inches,” he said. “A lot of factors — the type of storm, temperatures, time of day — go into that.”

Residents can assist street crews by parking in driveways during storms, Heskett said.

“A lot of roads are pretty tight with people parking on both sides of the road,” he said. “We don’t want to hit anybody’s car, but every once in a while it does happen in bad weather conditions with slick roadways.”

The mild December allowed public works to finish out the 2011 year without a hit on the budget for snow removal, Heskett said. Although the department will do what needs to be done in the months ahead, a respite from the recent trend of bad winters would be welcome to spare overtime and operational costs of snow removal and the street repair expenses that invariably follow.

“Our budget is tighter this year than it was last year,” Heskett said. ‘’We’ve had two bad ones (winters) in a row. Everyone’s hoping this one will be good.”

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