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City addresses snow removal workload

2/14/2014

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

mkenwright@dailynews.net

The city of Hays spent 830 total man-hours responding to the two recent snowstorms.

Overtime work clocked in at 149.5 hours, according to information provided by the Public Works Department. Two contractors supplied seven dump trucks for $5,670.  

City staff spent 689 total hours with equipment spreading 23,500 gallons of salt brine and 38 yards of sand salt, blowing snow and blading streets.

Fifteen employees in the service division are licensed to operate the machinery, and personnel in other departments can be recruited to assist, said I.D. Creech, Public Works director.

The city's snow policies focus attention on emergency snow routes and streets on two priority lists. Logistics make treating residential streets difficult.

"We have so many streets that in normal snows, we would never be able to get all the streets. We have no place to push the snow," Creech said.

"People start digging out, and the snow plow comes back through their neighborhood and creates a ridge, for which we get complaints."

The emergency routes were pretreated with salt brine in anticipation of snow. Outside contractors assisted downtown to keep pace with the rapid schedule the city follows.

"We applied the policy we have in place and kept the main routes open," Creech said.

Henry Schwaller IV, Hays vice mayor, said it would cost approximately $300,000 a year to build enough staff and equipment to respond to residential areas.

City Manager Toby Dougherty said plows were sent into neighborhoods to gauge residents' reactions. In the future, a large snowfall or sustained cold temperatures could merit city staff making one trip through residential zones a few days after the storm.

"We are going to be re-evaluating the way we handle residential snow removal," Dougherty said. "On a typical 2- to 3-inch snow, we're still not going into residential areas."

Byron Johnson, a Hays resident, said he approved of the city's handling of the snow.

"My street doesn't get bladed that often. I understand that," Johnson said. "You know, we got to get the hospital's streets ready to go and schools' streets ready to go."

Keegan Fielder, Hays, said he has lived in town for 30 years and can remember when the city responded to residential streets.

"I think it's a shame that they don't do it anymore because when I was a kid, they used to plow every road," he said.