Mayor Chris Beutler today announced an adjustment to the City's snow removal operations to address the accumulation of ice and snowpack on City residential streets. Public Works and Utilities crews have been spreading sand and salt on the streets this week to provide better traction and promote melting. In the future, crews may spread salt on residential streets at the time of the initial plowing operation.
"It's important to remember that every storm is different," Mayor Beutler said. "With the most recent storm, the early rain and continued low temperatures have kept our residential streets icy for a longer period of time. I want to thank the public for their patience and for driving carefully. We are always looking for better ways to use our available resources to keep our streets safe, and we hope this change will help improve driving conditions."
Scott Opfer, Street and Traffic Operations Manager in the Public Works and Utilities Department, said the City is proactive in preventing ice buildup on major streets. Depending on the type of storm that's forecasted, arterial streets, bridges and major intersections may be pre-treated with salt brine or magnesium chloride. This leaves residue on the streets to make it easier for crews to remove snow and ice. Once freezing precipitation has begun, crews spread salt and sand on major streets, bus routes and bridges.
When plowing begins, Opfer said the City's first priority must be clearing all Emergency Snow Routes, the major streets used by emergency service. Crews next focus on the other arterial streets, bus routes and streets around schools. By the time, crews are able to start clearing residential areas, the snow has been packed down by traffic, making it more difficult to remove.
"By spreading salt in residential areas as we make our initial attempts to plow, we hope to more quickly reduce the amount of ice and snowpack on the streets," Opfer said. "We will need to take weather conditions into account. When temperatures remain low, salt can be less effective. When temperatures are warmer prior to the storm or if they are expected to be above freezing after the storm, applying salt may not be the best use of our resources."
The Mayor urged the public to stay informed on City snow operations and parking bans and to keep parked cars off the streets to help crews remove snow more quickly and thoroughly.
Information is available at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: snow) or from the Snow Center at 402-441-7644. Residents can sign up on the website to be notified of snow operations through RSS feeds. They also can sign up to be notified through Twitter at twitter.com/lincolnsnow.