Street Division and Police Departments Ready for Winter Weather
Snow is in the forecast for this week and the City of Marshfield is ready. Salt has been ordered and the salters calibrated, the plows are in position, and snow meetings have started at Marshfield Street Division.
“Snow meetings begin in October,” said Street Superintendent Mike Winch. “At these meetings, we talk over any changes for the next season. We’ll give a reminder on some areas that have to be plowed differently, talk about any new equipment and any new route changes, and take any questions or concerns.”
This year, changes include some new staff members that are in-training, and a few new areas that need to be plowed (including Veteran’s Estates, East 21st Street east of Tamarack St, and the widened alley by the new Wenzel Family Plaza).
Earlier this year, the Street Division also installed their own brine maker, a cost-saving measure that will help facilitate the anti-icing process. Previously, “prewetting” was the main method used. READ MORE HERE.
Prior to the first snowfall, Street Division staff drive their snowplow route (in a truck) to familiarize themselves with any potential obstacles or hazards.
“They look for high manholes, bad spots in the road that may cause damage to the plow, things like that,” explained Winch. “We try to fix what we can, but we always run out of time. We’ll then mark any hazard spots with a snow fence post so they can see it from the plow.”
The Division has a master list of these hazard areas so that anyone substitute plowing a street knows place of which to be wary.
Mechanics also evaluate all equipment to ensure it is operational. Because the Division’s trucks are used in construction and in snow removal, during construction they remove the truck’s wings and then replace them again before snow falls.
From staffing to equipment, the Street Division’s time investment is significant in an effort to help ensure everyone is kept safe during the snowy season. Winch reminds citizens to keep their sidewalks clean (within 48 hours of a snowfall, sidewalks must be cleared), and refrain from pushing snow into the City right-of-way or across the street.
“We need to have room to push snow off the road, and we store it on the right-of-way,” said Winch. “That’s reserved for us because we need somewhere to go with it before we can haul it.”
Police Chief Rick Gramza shared that the two most common violations seen in Marshfield are an unclean windshield (snow, ice, or frost on the windows of the car not allowing the operator to adequately see) and driving too fast for conditions which requires operators to travel at an appropriate reduced speed when special hazard exists with regard to other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions.
“Citizens and visitors need to make sure their vehicle is in proper ‘winter’ shape with good windshield wipers, tires with appropriate tread, headlamps and brake lamps properly working and clean of snow, and a safety kit to stay warm should they get stranded,” said Gramza “It is always suggested that people give extra time when traveling should weather conditions slow traffic or speeds.”
Residents are reminded that snow and ice must be removed from sidewalks within 48 hours after the end of a snowfall.
“Failure to do this not only creates a significant liability for the property owner but could result in city staff removing the ice and snow at a cost to the owner or renter of the property. This is found in Ordinance 13-35,” said Gramza.
Furthermore, Wisconsin State Statute 346.94.11 States: “no person shall operate any vehicle or combination of vehicles upon a highway when such vehicle or combination of vehicles is towing any toboggan, sled, skis, bicycle, skates or toy vehicle bearing any person.”
Not only are City staff ready for winter, local contractors are also prepared.
“The care and detail to every lot is done to avoid slip-and-fall accidents,” said Rich Hohl, owner of Solutionz*, a company that does local snowplowing and removal. “The attention to detail is what companies like ours are hired for. We usually do the plowing and salting before 6:00am, so we are pretty much the sole decision-makers on how the lot should be kept up. At 4 o’clock in the morning, we have to make decisions with the best interests of the customer in mind.”
For Hohl and Solutionz, safety is priority number one.
“Our ultimate goal is obviously to have zero slip-and-falls,” said Hohl. “Our goal is to make sure at 7-8-9 o’clock in the morning that everybody that is out there and doing shopping is safe. It’s a 24/hour job, 7 days a week.”
(*Solutionz is a sister company of TriMedia, the company that manages Focus on Marshfield.)