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Town Snowplowing: Answering Resident's Questions
Jeff Kujawa, Senior Roads Foreman for the Webster Highway Dept. provides an overview of how the Dept. manages snowplowing for over 400 miles of roads in town. Jeff has worked at the Highway Dept. for 26 years, many as Foreman.
Residential, and commercial plowing is a different animal entirely than municipal plowing. With municipal plowing, there are many outside factors not associated with the other types: speeds, intersections, stop signs, traffic signals, curves, hills, and bus stops with children in the road. We have to account for all of these situations, including people not driving for snow conditions, in order to make the general public safe.
We have many tools at our disposal to complete this task, which include:
- 24 trucks with plows, wings and sanders on board
- 3 wheel loaders, with hydroturn plows and pushers
- 6 pick up truck style plows, 2 with sanders
- A grader outfitted with a wing, and 11 hydroturn plow
And of course we also have salt, which we treat with an additive to increase it's effectiveness at lower temperatures.
There are many factors that determine when and why the Highway Dept. plows the roads:
Each time we have a snowfall event, we have to attack it independently. For example, if it is 15 degrees out, salt isn't as effective, and even if there is only one inch of snow, we will scrape the roads. This allows for better reaction of salt, less salt usage, and faster results for residents at a cheaper cost. The reason being, salt now is $47 per ton.
We financially can not afford to just chemically treat roads, compared to scraping, because it would take twice as much salt. Thus, as it continues snowing, several trips are needed. Some side streets could be considered major cut through from one busy street to another, and receive more attention than others, meaning multiple trips. As far as plow blades, we are buying a kenemetal carbide blades, that lasts an average of five years per plow on each truck, thus blade wear isn't the factor.
Another example of seeing us in subdivisions, or side streets with little snow is if it 36 degrees and sunny, and causing packed snow to melt. If roads become overly sloppy or if temperatures are to plummet and freeze, rather than have ice in the subdivisions causing an unsafe condition, we scrape them to rid any dangerous conditions.
We currently use approximately 5000 tons of salt a year, at a cost of roughly $235,000. We have neighboring towns that use double this amount. If we used this much salt, this would significantly impact tax payers. We are being as cost efficient as we can be. We run shift work throughout the winter, 3:00 am-11:00 am, and 12:30 pm-8:30 pm. The men stay past shift hours only as needed. We were one of the first towns in Monroe County to implement this method, along with one man plowing.
We take great pride in our snow removal, and try and give the Webster residents the best service possible. We are constantly watching weather patterns, long range weather forecasts, preparing and planning so we are always prepared. We are trying to serve the public in the best fashion we see fit. There are over 400 miles of road in town that we maintain, and conditions aren't always the same throughout the town, so we adjust accordingly.
I hope I was helpful in answering your questions, and if you ever would like to call and discuss this with me, feel free at 872-1443.
Jeffrey J Kujawa
Foreman, Webster Highway