As Nebraskans observe Winter Weather Awareness Week and forecasts call for colder temperatures, officials with the city Public Works and Utilities Department say Lincoln is prepared to keep city streets clear of snow and ice.
"Public safety is our top priority," said Bill Nass, Maintenance Coordinator in the Public Works Street Operations Division. "All our sand, salt and de-icer has arrived by truck and train, and our equipment is ready to go. We have the city divided into 18 districts, with equipment located in each district for fast response."
Nass said the districts have been adjusted to allow for city growth and for new bus routes. A computerized routing system has been in use for several years. In addition to its own equipment, the Public Works Department uses equipment from other city departments and private contractors.
The current city budget includes about $1.89 million for snow operations, which include equipment, fuel, material and personnel. That’s a 3.7 percent increase over the previous year. The city also has about $1.5 million in unspent snow funds from previous years.
Nass said the city’s snow operations are divided into four phases:
Phase I - City material spreaders begin putting sand, salt and other materials on the streets, around schools (weekdays) and around churches (weekends). The city uses some non-corrosive materials such as a liquid de-icer and a salt substance called "ice-slicer."
Phase II - Plowing operation begin on emergency snow routes and major arterials. Parking is prohibited on these routes.
Phase III - Plowing begins on bus routes, minor arterials, around schools (weekdays) and around churches (weekends).
Phase IV - Plowing begins in residential areas.
If the Mayor declares a snow emergency, parking is banned on emergency snow routes, all arterials and bus routes. If the Mayor declares a residential parking ban, parking is banned on both sides of residential streets except for high-density areas. In high-density areas, parking is banned on either the odd- or even-numbered sides of the street. When the snow has been removed from one side, the ban switches to the other side of the street. Vehicles parking in violation of parking bans may be ticketed and towed at the owner’s expense.
Information on the city’s snow plan, including a map of snow routes and high-density areas is available on page 34 of the blue pages of the Alltel phone directory. The public can also receive information by calling the Snow Center at 441-7644. The Citizen Information Center will keep the media informed on snow operations and will run messages on cable channels 5 and 10.
Public Works officials also remind residents that sidewalks are to be cleared by 9 a.m. after an overnight snowfall. The entire walk must be cleared along with any adjoining wheelchair ramps or curb cuts. If a sidewalk is not cleared and a complaint is received, notice will be given to the homeowner. The city may hire a contractor to clear the walk at the homeowner’s expense. After a street has been plowed, residents who push or blow snow back into the street could be subject to a $100 fine.