An eye on the weatherCity and county crews ready for winter
Even though snow hasn’t accumulated, city and county officials are preparing for the upcoming winter road conditions.
City of Washington Maintenance and Construction supervisor J.J. Bell said the City of Washington’s plowing policy is to plow when 2 inches of snow has fallen.
“We try to keep an eye on the weather to see what it will do and estimate when we need to be out plowing,” Bell said. “But of course every snowfall is different.”
In the city there are priority streets that the city maintenance crews try to clear first, Bell said. Some priority streets in the city that Bell named include: around the Washington County Hospital, East Seventh and East 11th streets, West Second Street, and West Fifth Street all the way out to the end of the pavement by the Washington County Sheriff’s offices and HACAP.
Once the priority streets are done, the crews will begin plowing residential areas and downtown, Bell said.
“We’ll try to do the downtown area and get out of there by 5 a.m. because people head downtown around that time for coffee,” Bell said.
Salting the streets is a little different, Bell said. He tries to keep an eye on the weather to gauge when salting should begin.
“We don’t want to put it down too early or too late,” Bell said. “We are just trying to find the happy medium.”
The city will be using salt brine as a pre-applicator for rock salt, Bell said. The city bought the salt brine from the state and has bought the rock salt from the county.
There are a couple of things Bell would like to remind residents when his crews are out taking care of the streets this winter.
“It would be nice if residents could pull their cars into their driveway or get them off of the street somehow,” he said.
Another item he would like to remind residents is to wait until after their street has been plowed to shovel or use a snow blower to push the snow to the street, he said.
“Please be patient,” Bell said. “It helps us out if they don’t throw the snow back into the street.”
Washington County engineer Jacob Thorius said his department typically waits until the snow event is done.
“There is no set policy,” he said. “It just depends on the event.”
For instance, if the snow starts early evening and goes through the night, the county road maintenance crew won’t go out until the next morning.
The county has 20 workers who plow roads on 18 different routes and territories, Thorius said. Eight routes have paved roads that dump trucks are used on. Then there are 10 territories of gravel roads that motor graders are used for.
“If we have the manpower we’ll send out two pickup trucks with mounted snowblades on the front of them to help clear intersections,” Thorius said.
When it comes to salting, Thorius echoed Bell’s wait-and-see approach. Like Bell, Thorius will keep an eye on the weather to see if there are needs to lay down the rock salt and sand mix the county uses.
A liquid material is applied to the mixture, which activates the rock salt faster, Thorius said.
“When rock salt comes off of the truck it usually takes 25 minutes to activate,” he said. “If you pre-wet it, activation only takes seven to 10 minutes.”
The liquid application is applied to the mixture as it is falling from the trucks, Thorius said. The liquid applicator also prevents the formation of big chunks of the mixture that could damage vehicles as its being applied to the road.