City Hall Blog (archived)

Gearing up for this winter's snow and ice removal season

 

A few weeks ago on the City Hall Blog, you learned about the City’s policy for garbage and recycling collection during adverse winter weather. The weather has been quite mild recently, but City’s Transportation Department staff members are also thinking ahead to prepare for what lays ahead this winter.
 
During a winter weather event, snow and ice removal is one of the City's core services and is vital to keeping the community running. Transportation, Stormwater, and Wastewater crews work together to abate snow and ice from roads. In order to be ready when the weather becomes severe, staff members plan, prepare, and practice the response.
 
Preparation for severe weather begins during budget planning each year, when usage from the previous year is considered to decide how much funding should go towards material for snow and ice combating operations.  During the year, trucks are inspected and repairs are made.  Mutual aid agreements and vendors to support operations are identified, and the appropriate documents are prepared.
 
The City of Concord has prioritized all of its roads based on the importance of the highway and traffic volumes.  Routes are assigned to various trucks to comply with the City's Snow and Ice Abatement Plan, which provides guidance for winter weather response.  Routes are evaluated annually and the policy is updated as needed.
 
On Tuesday, December 20, crews from several departments participated in an exercise to test their response.   The day began with a training session and discussion on the changes in the plan, as well as an opportunity for crews to ask questions.  Crews then practiced a “live operation” (or dry run), where they practiced reading equipment and driving assigned routes. This opportunity helped crews to become familiar with equipment and route assignments, and identify problem areas.
 
The most common procedure motorists see just prior to the arrival of winter weather is the application of brine to streets. The brine solution helps prevent the snow and ice from bonding to the pavement, so crews can more effectively plow roads.  This is cost effective (pre-emptive brine application is much safer and less expensive than rock-salt application after a storm) and efficient down to temperatures of 27 degrees.  However, rain can reduce the effectiveness if it arrives prior to the winter weather by washing the applied material off the street.
 
During a winter weather event, avoiding travel unless absolutely necessary is a good way to help the crews’ efforts.  Being a careful and informed driver is the best way motorists can travel safely.   Also remember:
  • If you must travel, keep yourself informed about the weather and road conditions in your area and your destination area. Updates will be posted regularly to concordnc.gov and ncdot.gov/traffictravel
  • Allow extra time to your destination.
  • Slow down and increase your following distance.
  • Have an emergency kit, warm clothes, and a fully charged cell phone with you while traveling.
The City of Concord is gearing up for the potential of winter weather this season. Now is a good time for you to consider preparing for winter weather too. For winter weather traffic safety tips and information about NCDOT’s prepration process, visit ncdot.gov.

The City attaches equipment to existing dump trucks normally used for several departments' everyday operations.  Nine trucks are equipped to apply brine solution, and fifteen trucks are equipped with salt spreaders and plow blades.

The first step is to safely remove the tailgate of each dump truck.

 

Crews prepare to load a salt spreader in the back of a dump truck.  The storage area was designed in-house by staff to safely and efficiently prepare equipment for snow and ice removal.

 

Crews practice installing a salt spreader in the back of a dump truck.

 

Crews practice installing a salt spreader in the back of a dump truck.

 

The final step is to attach the plow blades to the front of the truck.

 

The plow trucks in action from January 2011.

 

A truck equipped with a brine applicator. Brine solution is applied before winter weather arrives to improve plowing efficiency and effectiveness.