Recent storms plow through city snow removal budgets
SANDY, Utah — Half of Sandy city’s snowplows have been forced to park outside after a large part of their garage was destroyed in a 2017 fire.
“It was a big fire! There were no sprinklers so there was nothing to stop it,” Sandy Mayor Monica Zoltanski said. “It burned our administrative offices and garage space, so that’s why we are on a course to rebuild our public works facility.”
The city lost 11 snowplows in the fire, which they have since replaced. The city now has 24 plows and around 30 drivers. But the damaged part of the garage has yet to be rebuilt, forcing half of their fleet to park in the lot, uncovered.
“It’s like a game of Tetris when we park the plows. We have to make due, putting others where we can, obviously trying to get them all out of the weather, but it’s not always possible,” Zoltanski said.
The city’s field operations manager, Blaine Botkin, said not having a garage to house all of their plows impacts their ability to get out onto the roads quickly.
“You’ve got snow on the trucks, you’ve got to warm up the trucks, you’ve got to get the snow off of everything. Our response time is delayed,” Botkin said.
Botkin said this winter has been especially hard on the city’s plow drivers. It has also been tough on the city’s snow removal budget.
“We’ve exceeded (the salt budget) by probably 75%,” he said.
Bountiful has had a similar experience after they were hit hard by last week’s storm. The city’s engineer, Lloyd Cheney, said they used up all of their salt budget and have had to dip into contingency funds.
“This season has been one of the busier ones that we’ve had. Our guys have been out 60 times this year,” Cheney said. “But they are doing great. I believe we have the best snow removal team in the state.”
In Cottonwood Heights, where they average 20 to 25 snow events a season, snowplow drivers have already responded to 40.
“We haven’t reached the top of the budget yet. As long as we don’t get any other big storms like we did last week, we’ll be fine,” said Danny Martinez, public works deputy director for Cottonwood Heights.
UDOT exceeds annual plow budget, will borrow from non-essential paving to get by
The city’s 13 drivers and 17 plows have already covered 30,483 miles so far this season.
Tuesday’s storm is expected to bring another 2 or 3 inches of snow to each of the cities, and more storms are lining up to hit the Beehive State later this week.
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