Storm stretches city resources to the limit

City crews work to repair a fire hydrant and water main break on Cedar Avenue Dec. 17 after they were hit by a car and damaged. -
City crews work to repair a fire hydrant and water main break on Cedar Avenue Dec. 17 after they were hit by a car and damaged.
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MARYSVILLE — Depending on where you live in Marysville your opinion of how well the city did in clearing the streets during the December snow storm may vary greatly — those living on or near the city’s main roads would probably give the city a higher grade than those who reside on side streets or on a hill.

City staff met Dec. 30 to review the city’s response to the 18-day snowstorm which was one of the most severe in recent history. It not only impacted the local roads but also delayed other public services such as garbage and recycling collection.

“The city of Marysville has always been prepared for the typical snowstorm that blankets our region,” said Mayor Dennis Kendall. “But back-to-back snow and ice events like we just experienced are rare. We were unprepared for a sustained storm of this proportion, but we did our best with the equipment and staff we had, also taking into account the limitations on taxes and spending that are hampering all local governments in the current recessionary economy.”

The city has five vehicles — three 10-yard sander trucks, one 5-yard truck and one 1/2 flat sander truck — to clear the city’s 118.8 miles (267.3 lane miles) of roads. The city prioritizes the roads giving first priority to arterial and collector streets, followed by commercial streets, then residential streets and, finally, cul-de-sacs and parking lots. The city executed its Snow and Ice Removal Plan in advance of the snowstorm and Public Works crews worked around the clock and on 12-hour shifts to prioritize major arterials and public transportation routes for snow plowing, sanding and de-icing.

According to Doug Buell, the city’s community information officer, the city reported 860.7 hours of worker time directly related to the snow and ice event, while Public Works vehicles fitted for plowing and sanding dumped 1,273 tons of sand and 10,825 pounds of salt on major arterials and key local roads. It is estimated that costs directly related to the storm will be approximately $60,000 which will have to come out of the 2009 budget.

Buell added that Public Works street sweepers expect to recover half of the sand dumped for re-use which will save taxpayer money by reducing the volume of sand necessary to buy for future snowstorms.

Public Works crews also responded Dec. 17 when a car hit a fire hydrant at Fifth Street and Cedar Avenue, breaking the hydrant tee away from the water main and requiring a water shut down to a few local businesses and homes. Crews were able to replace the hydrant and restore water service the same day, but a portion of the underground storm drain will also require replacement, so a temporary gravel-rock mix has been placed in the roadway until a dryer weather spell when crews can perform the needed work and final asphalt overlay.

Roads crews weren’t the only city employees who saw their work increase during the snowstorm. Public Works and City Hall received a gamut of phone calls and emails from residents related to the snowstorm and its impacts. Teri McCann, Customer Relations Representative, recorded 175 missed garbage calls, 148 calls for snow and ice removal, 98 regarding water service and frozen pipes and 25 missed recycling complaints. Additionally, City Hall fielded 29 calls and emails fro snow and ice removal, and 11 for missed garbage pickup.

The city’s Solid Waste reported 120 hours of overtime to get caught up with garbage collection, said Terry Hawley, Operations Manager. Trucks and crews were unable to collect garbage for several days early in the snow and ice event, but performed regular pickup and missed pickup, doubling staff on trucks for faster collection that freed up time to grab missed garbage on other routes, as soon as weather permitted.

While the December snow storm may be fading into our memories, the city’s Public Works Department is already preparing for the next storm, whenever it arrives.

Repairs are being made to the city’s snow and ice vehicles, and equipment and anti-ice materials are being restocked, according to Public Works Superintendent Larry Larson.

For example, the engine in the 1/2-yard sander used to ensure public facilities such as City Hall, the Library and the Public Safety Building are well-sanded, broke down and will require engine replacement. “The vehicles really took a beating during this last winter blast,” said Larson.

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