By Bruce Wagner, road operations manager and Debi Ross-San Soucie, public information officer
Winter storms challenged road crews to keep the county road system drivable last month. Crews shifted to round-the-clock 12-hour shifts on Friday, Nov. 19 and tried to stay ahead of wildly fluctuating forecasts. They resumed regular operations on Friday, Nov. 26.
Crews followed their snow and ice plan to keep arterial and lifeline routes open. Snowplow drivers plowed the county’s 1,517 miles of arterials and lifeline routes multiple times each shift. They spread 1,759 tons of salt and 1,102 tons of sand. Anti-icer trucks applied 65,100 gallons of salt brine to prevent ice from forming during freezing temperatures. Crews also worked to clear downed trees after cold north winds brought trees and limbs down on roadways.
The cost of responding to this weather event was $372,008 over the normal operating costs of $284,966. That brought the total operations costs for Nov. 19 through Nov. 26 to $656,974 (Labor: $266, 068, equipment: $124,833 and materials: $266,073).
Most of the increased costs were for materials like salt and sand. When averaged over the number of residents in unincorporated county, the cost was less than $2 per person for a week’s worth of snow and ice fighting.
“The Road Operations Division does an incredible job with a close eye on cost-efficiency,” Brian Ziegler, Public Works and Utilities director said. “Their focus on preparation and proactive operations served drivers well.”
Road Operations budgeted $1.12 million for snow and ice response in 2010. This storm brought the total spent so far in 2010 to just under $845,000 leaving about $275,000 for the rest of this year.
Road Operations Manager Bruce Wagner thanked crews who worked around the clock and through the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Your hard work kept us ahead of the weather and kept roads open for drivers, commerce, and emergency responders,” said Wagner. “I’m proud of your commitment to doing a great job and providing excellent service.”