New plowing shifts make for more efficient clearing of snowy roads

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On snowy days, the Town of Huntsville’s Public Works Department has almost 500 kilometres of local roads to clear as quickly as possible. It’s a big task and they’ve put some new procedures in place this year to help streamline it, says Lee Ripenburg, the Town’s Manager of Operations.

Public Works staff monitor roads around the clock and, new this year, plow drivers are on two shifts—from 4 a.m. to noon and from noon to 8 p.m.—which has increased the amount of plowing time per day by four hours or more. The Town has hired more drivers and the number of routes has been reduced from nine to seven—you may see your route plowed at a different time but it will likely be plowed more frequently if needed.

Be patient—it does take time for the Town’s plows, graders, and sanders to clear the 340 kilometres of paved roads plus another 150 kilometres or so of gravel roads. The faster they can clear those routes, the sooner you’ll be able to get around with ease so keep the list below in mind:

  • Don’t park your vehicle on the street overnight. Vehicles that interfere with snow removal will be towed with the owner responsible for the sizable towing fee. Park in municipal lots instead.
  • When you encounter any of the Public Works fleet, remember to go slow and give plows and sanders room. They make frequent stops and may back up to move to another part of their route. Be courteous, keep your distance behind them – the best place to be on a snowy road is behind a plow; the road ahead will be in worse condition – and move around when the driver motions for you to go ahead. A good rule for keeping your distance: if you can’t see the driver in his mirrors, he can’t see you either.
  • Mark your garbage bins or mailboxes, particularly if you are a seasonal resident, so that they aren’t damaged by a passing plow. If they’re buried in the snow, the drive can’t see them.
  • Keep your garbage bags and recycling bins back off the sidewalk on garbage collection day. It takes sidewalk crews longer to clear routes if they have to move these out of the way, and if they are perched on top of a snow bank a plow may end up pushing them down the road.
  • Ask your children not to play on our build snow forts in roadside banks. Yes, it’s fun but plow drivers can’t see them if they are behind, or worse, inside a snow bank. For their safety, keep them away.

Plowing is tough on roads, but it’s a necessary task in this part of the world. Some new road rehabilitation and ditching procedures that have been recently implemented by Town staff will allow roads to drain and thaw better, says Ripenburg, and that should help to mitigate any potential damage from ice and plows.

And just because it’s winter, road repairs don’t stop. The Town purchased a new hot box last year, a device that heats up the cold mix material that’s used to patch holes to make it easier to work with and help it bond more readily with the road surface. A freeze-thaw cycle will still pop some of them out, but that will happen less frequently than it used to.

If you have any Public Works questions or concerns, contact the Town’s Customer Service Desk at 705-789-1751 or on the second floor of Town Hall.

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2 Comments

  1. For years our rd was cleared early in the morning NO MORE last snow was not till next day. No recycle pickup no getting school bus out. We are old close to 90 or over and if we needed an ambulance they could not even get down our rd So far the new shifts are bust.

    • Andre Brunette on

      I have no complaints with town plowing, but what mystifies is still Main Street snow removal. I know it’s the district responsibility but maybe our town can light a fire under there butts to clear it more often.

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