Grand Island explains why some roads are not treated

With snowy and icy weather, people are asking for their residential streets to be cleared. But Grand Island explains why not every road can be cleared. (KSNB)
With snowy and icy weather, people are asking for their residential streets to be cleared. But Grand Island explains why not every road can be cleared. (KSNB)(KSNB)
Published: Jan. 23, 2020 at 6:12 PM CST
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With all the winter weather in recent weeks, people have been calling for cities to help clear their residential roads. Grand Island Public Works explained Thursday why they can't do that.

The main focus is resources. They only have so much manpower, funds, and salt to treat the roads.

“Not often do we try to use the budget as an excuse by any means but it comes down to do you have the storage for the material that you would need to salt side streets and if you use it now how long is it going to take to replenish that stock. Meanwhile, you still have winter storms coming at you,” Street Superintendent Shannon Callahan said.

If the Street Department were to expand to all the city's roads it would triple their operating costs. It costs the city about $7,000 each time the plows and salt trucks have to go out. If residential streets are added that would push it up tp $21,000 for each snow event. Drainage is also a big concern on the side streets.

“You want to make sure you don't get those catch basins too full of ice or snowmelt that freezes back to ice,” Callahan said. “A lot of times mother nature will melt these side streets. Yes it's slow but sometimes slowly can be the best way because then it can actually enter the storm sewer and be removed from the road way.”

When the weather was warmer on Wednesday Grand Island did treat some stop sign approaches but can't do it for every intersection.

Read the pull post from the Grand Island Public Works Department:

“The City has received some requests to treat side streets due to icy conditions; side street stop sign approaches were treated yesterday afternoon.

There are many factors that go into the decision of where, when and how to treat the roads.

The use of salt is for major roadways that carry a significant amount of traffic; the salt in combination with the vehicles beaks down the ice. Side streets do not carry enough traffic to assist with melting, therefore any daytime melting would refreeze overnight. When putting salt on a non-major roadway, such as a residential side street, there also is the added expense of equipment, labor, and materials for little to no lasting effect on the road conditions.

Another factor in treating the roadways is the amount of salt storage the City currently has. Right now the lead time for getting salt deliveries is 3-4 weeks. If the City were to treat every road for each weather event there would be times with no material available for the City to use.

There have been requests for ice cutting equipment to be used on the side streets, with the City also receiving requests to not cut ice as it leaves large chucks and citizens have to clear sidewalks and driveways again. The City is outfitted with four (4) motor graders that do have the ability to peel some ice. These machines can put the blade down to the road surface to scrape the ice off, however this can result in damage to the machines, the pavement, and manholes which all result in added expense.

Lastly, with the City’s flat topography there are drainage concerns with scraping ice. Ice can cover drains and then there is water/more ice buildup in the roadways once melting occurs.”

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