The American Public Works Association bestowed an Excellence in Snow and Ice Control Award on public works departments in Massachusetts, Michigan, and New York:
Worcester (Mass.) Department of Public Works and Parks
Clearing an average of 68 inches of snow from hilly streets is a challenge when “seven cars try to park within a 20-foot stretch of curb,” says Assistant Director of Streets/Sanitation James Kempton, PE. His team makes every effort to let residents know the city enforces its no-parking ordinance during inclement weather. In addition to newspaper and radio announcements, public works posts parking ban alerts on its Web site. Residents can choose how they receive alerts: Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, or text message.
The department trains operators annually and deploys novel procedures, such as mounting spring-loaded hose hangers on plows, to maximize service life and reduce maintenance costs.
Farmington Hills (Mich.) Department of Public Works
Farmington Hills faces the same economic struggles as the rest of metropolitan Detroit. Public works lost 10 positions in the last year, leaving Road Maintenance Supervisor Bryan Pickworth with one employee for every 18 miles of road compared to the state's 1:12 average.
To maintain service levels as salt prices rise, his team takes a proactive approach to clearing streets when weather conditions permit. In eight hours, a single truck equipped with a tank and towing a tank trailer applies 8,500 gallons of brine on 58 miles of centerline road. This costs 30% less than traditional salting and has reduced overtime costs for emergency call-ins. The trucks serve double-duty: prewetting the roads, then removing snow later when plows are attached.
Orangetown (N.Y.) Highway Department
To protect pavement surfaces, Highways Superintendent James Dean's fleet — including 29 heavy-duty and four medium-duty plows, four wheel loaders, and two sidewalk plows/blowers — is equipped with rubber plow blades and automatic tire chains that are only engaged when needed.
The historic town uses advanced technology to stay ahead of storms. Telvent's WeatherSentry Online provides real-time, targeted forecasts that help Dean allocate labor and materials. The heavy-duty plows' computerized controllers blend the proper proportion of water and salt for prewetting. The wet salt is more likely to stay on the road, reducing waste.