Ask an Official: Road crews’ winter preparation discussed
The week’s featured question was submitted for the City of Merrill Street Department and Lincoln County Highway Department.
The question reads:
“When winter weather hits so early like it did last week, I can’t help but wonder the problems it can cause the street and highway departments! Or is that not really the case? Are our crews caught off guard when mother nature surprises us or are winter preparations made well ahead of time? What is all involved with switching over from summer duties to winter duties? I’m sure salt and sand isn’t cheap and stocking it can’t be easy either. Bless you all and thank you for all you do keeping our streets and community safe!”
Answer as given by Merrill City Administrator Dave Johnson
“The City prepares for winter weather prior to the time of the season’s first snow. Our street crews have a summer schedule of 4 ten-hour days and a winter schedule of 5 eight-hour days. Supplies of salt and sand are purchased, and plows are readied for use long before they are needed. The time of day it snows, the duration of a snow event, and the amount of snow received can impact our overtime budget but our Street Department employees work whenever necessary to keep our streets cleared and safe for our citizens.”
Answer as given by Lincoln County Administrative Coordinator Randy Scholz (on behalf of Lincoln County Highway Commissioner John Hanz.
“The County Highway Department is aware of possible snow, sleet, rain and freezing temperatures in October, November and December. The Department starts discussions on finishing construction projects and WisDOT Routine Maintenance Agreements (RMA), Discretionary Maintenance Agreement (DMA), and Performance Based Maintenance (PBM) in early October.
“We then make plans to covert trucks to winter maintenance configurations (snow plows, sander and brine equipment). This year all but two trucks are ready to go for plowing. The other two will be done shortly. Our crews were not caught off guard, but the early snow is a budget killer. Complicating the budget issue is the rough winter weather for January, February and March 0f 2017.
Salt purchases are made in September, early fills (salt) start at the end of September and continue into late October or until contract requirements are filled. Blending of sand and salt begins when construction is complete. It is normally done by early November. The County Highway Department is and was ready to go!”
Have a question or concern you would like to address? Simply send your question or concern to firstname.lastname@example.org along with an indication of which entity your question or concern pertains to. Current participants are the Merrill Police Department, Merrill Fire Department, Tomahawk Police Department, Lincoln County Administrative Coordinator Randy Scholz, Merrill City Administrator Dave Johnson, Merrill Area Housing Authority Director Paul Russell, Lincoln County Clerk Chris Marlowe and Merrill Area Public Schools (MAPS) Superintendent Dr. John Sample. Please note: Those who submit to the ‘Ask an Official’ feature remain anonymous.