Mayor Chris Beutler today said the City is introducing a new strategy to create safer driving conditions when streets become covered with ice and snow. He said if the City does receive snow this Saturday as forecasted, it will provide a good test of the new system at a time when many are not trying to get to and from work.
The first change is in the salt brine mixture, which helps slow the formation of ice and makes it easier to clear the streets once snow and ice have accumulated. The new brine includes beet juice, which will allow it to better adhere to road and bridge surfaces. The second change is an expansion of the pre-treatment. In the past, brine has been used primarily on bridges and at intersections. The City will now pre-treat all major arterials and usual trouble spots with the new beet brine. The beet brine will also be used to pre-treat rock salt to improve its application. Testing has shown that the beet brine rinses off clothing and vehicles with water.
"At City Hall, I encourage staff to constantly review processes and procedures that can lead to service improvements," Mayor Beutler said. "We should strive for improvement and learn from our previous efforts. We should not settle for 'good enough' but rather strive for 'even better.' After the clean up from Tuesday's storm, I met with Public Works staff to review the operation. It became clear from the conversation that our plans for a new pre-treatment method and additional equipment could potentially improve icy road conditions."
The recommendations came from the City's new Public Works Maintenance Manager, Ty Barger, who started working for the City in July. The change in operations was approved in September. After the procurement period, the City selected a vendor to install a new brine-making machine with more capacity. The earliest the vendor could install the new machine was this week. The new equipment is capable of producing 5,000 gallons of beet brine per hour.
"While we are confident in the new process, I need the public to understand that we have never used this new process before and are attempting something new to improve our snow operations," Beutler said. "Further, people need to be realistic about what can be accomplished by snow operations. While the City can improve driving conditions, commuters have to be pragmatic about the effectiveness of even a perfect snow response. We live in Nebraska where weather can change in an instant. There will be times when we cannot anticipate those changes and even when we do, we may not have enough time to respond."
The Mayor urged drivers to allow plenty of time to reach their destinations, to drive slowly and to make sure everyone is securely fastened. Watch for icy spots, especially on bridges and curves and at intersections Allow plenty of space between vehicles, and keep a safe distance from snowplows, trucks, graders and other equipment.
City Engineer Roger Figard said the City is prepared with 7,000 tons of rock salt, 170 tons of calcium chloride and 18,000 gallons of beet juice on hand. He said all snow fighting equipment has been serviced and is ready for operation, and crews have received refresher training. The 2014-15 snow removal budget is $3,687,792.
More information on the City's snow operations is available at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: snow).
Be prepared for winter weather by reviewing the City snow operations information available at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: snow). For City crews to clear streets effectively and efficiently, community cooperation is required. Residents are discouraged from parking on the street during any snow storm and are encouraged to plan ahead for alternative off-street parking. The Mayor may declare three types of parking bans:
All bans remain in effect until terminated by the Mayor. Vehicles parked illegally during parking bans are subject to fines, towing and storage costs at the owners' expense. Vehicles parked in a way that does not allow emergency vehicles to pass may be ticked for obstructing a public street.
Residents also are asked to stay informed on the status of snow operations. The City uses the following methods to inform the public:
City ordinance requires property owners to clear snow and ice from sidewalks by 9 a.m. the day following the end of the snow storm. Sidewalks must be kept clear of snow and ice during the day. The entire width of the walk must be cleared, along with any adjoining wheelchair ramps or curb cuts. It is illegal to push or blow snow into or on any street, alley or sidewalk. Violators are subject to a fine. Residents are encouraged to clear snow from fire hydrants.
Residents are also asked to keep the following contact information handy: