February 4, 2011 11:05 AM
We've been getting pretty good reviews for the City's snow plowing efforts during this week's major storm. One of the local TV station's unscientific poll found that 79% of their viewers gave us an "A" or a "B."
The credit for that goes to Streets Superintendent Al Schumacher and his crews. It's also important to remember that workers from Engineering, Parks and the Water Utility also work to clear the streets, sidewalks and paths. They worked hard, long hours as always, and they did a terrific job.
I've been asked why cleanup from this storm went so much more smoothly than the infamous storm of December, 2009. Well, first I should note that we actually do better in cleaning up after the average storm than we have in the past. We keep track of how long it takes to complete a citywide plowing, and the average time is actually less than it was a few years ago.
But the monster storms are different. And after last season's big one, we sat down to analyze what went right and what we might do differently next time. Two of those strategies paid off this week. New temperature sensors embedded in pavement told Al that a window opened up to spread salt on Wednesday afternoon when the air temperature indicated that salt wouldn't work. And when Al did use salt, he employed a new list of high priority arterials to make sure that we could get to the most heavily travelled streets before pavement temperatures plummeted and salt became ineffective again.
There were no more personnel or equipment than last year. We just worked with a little more information and employed it a little more strategically.
Our next task is to clear bus stops. I've authorized Al to move forward on that with the resources he needs because the long-term forecast is for the snow to stick around for a good part of February at least
Barely noticed in the big storm was Jimmy The Groundhog's prediction. The little guy calls for an early spring. As well as this one went, Al Schumacher and I want to believe him.