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City commits equipment and overtime to snow emergency operations

City commits equipment and overtime to snow emergency operations

By Marc LaVoie. CREATED Feb 4, 2014

The City of Wichita is working its snow emergency plan, with 100 workers trading off in 12-hours shifts, driving 50 trucks fitted with snow plows.

It takes 24 hours for 50 trucks to clear the city's primary, secondary and school snow routes, said Public Works Director Joe Pajor.

"We have 1,500 lane miles of snow emergency routes that are designated by ordinance," Pajor said. "That compares with 5,000 lane miles of the city street network total."

A lane-mile is defined as one street lane, one mile long. The city's snow emergency routes are equivalent to a four-lane road stretching from Wichita to Dallas.

With heavy snow falling it can be difficult to tell when a street has recently been plowed.

The city is also dealing with a shortage of road salt because suppliers are having trouble keeping with the demands of cities that are all dealing with icy winter conditions.

"We continue to visit with alternative suppliers in the state," Pajor said. "Obviously everybody's in the same situation with the demand outstripping the ability to produce the salt."

Another problem confronting cities involves poor road conditions that make salt deliveries even slower.