Preparedness is key when it comes to snow removal by the city and township -- and this year's gonna be a doozy!
For the 2016-17 winter season, Beavercreek crews are ready! Are you?
Every November, the city hosts a media event at the maintenance facilty on Orchard Lane to not only highlight readiness for the looming weather, but also to demonstrate the skills required by the plow operators in clearing our surface streets and neighborhood roads. Just imagine strapping a 1,900 pound Gledhill blade onto the front of your metallic pea Wagon Queen Family Truckster, navigating treacherous weather conditions, plowing snow and ice into the paths of least resistance, and spreading road salt evenly and effectively so that we citizens can clear out the milk and bread aisles from our favorite local grocers!
This year the Roads Department is adopting a new slogan, 'Snow Down = Slow Down'. We in Beavercreek LOVE our dry, black asphalt. There's a lot of work that goes into delivering it to us, which we'll describe in a moment, but the slogan refers to drivers using extreme caution while driving as weather conditions turn their worst. Whenever possible, stay home during and immediately after the snow event.
Often roads are slickest during the snowfall as the flakes melt when hitting the sun-warmed asphalt, then immediately ice-over due to the cold air temperature just above the surface. Most of our roads are crowned, meaning they are higher in the middle than they are at the curb to facilitate rain water drainage - which is part of the reason we see so many 'slide-offs' when things get slick.
If you must be on the road, please yield completely to the snow plows! Give them plenty of space for several reasons:
- They're literally projecting a dangerous wall of snow and ice at high velocity
- The trucks make frequent stops, turns and path adjustments
- Their turning radius must include a ten-foot wide steel blade
- Several passes are always necessary to clear an area
Other than the headlights, every light on the snow plow exists solely to alert approaching drivers of their location. When you see them slow down as there is not only an 22-ton vehicle in your path, but also untreated roadways.
When the second phase kicks in and they move into neighborhoods the drivers must navigate narrower roads, often dodging vehicles parked on the streets and using their route experience to know where the curbs end and the lawns begin. If possible, please don't park on the road surface during snow events. Also, please check this week to ensure your mailbox and post are secure and not loose in the ground - this will dramatically help its survival.
With over 550 lane-miles in the city, 60+ in the township, plus the county roads within Beavercreek, snow removal is a colossal effort. Most people don't recognize the fore-thought, skill, science, technology, and preventative maintenance involved! We'll take a brief look at each...
Fore-thought - Planning for a winter season in Beavercreek begins at the desk of Dave Woljta, Superintendent of the City Roads Department and his experienced staff. The management team considers longterm weather forecasts when stockpiling the 5,000-6,000 TONS of road salt we'll require each year. They annually evaluate the seventeen routes, equipment needs and salt providers - this year they negotiated a rate of $58.45 per ton, down from $99.43 per ton just two years ago - that's a $245,000.00 savings!
Skill - The plow drivers in Beavercreek are second to none! Operating these vehicles requires a tremendous about of multi-tasking in difficult situations. The focus required to do the job is challenged by changing weather conditions, other vehicles, extreme hours and numerous mechanisms to control. They study their routes, which average 40 lane-miles, each offseason to maximize effectiveness and efficiency as well as to determine where to best pile snow.
Science & Technology - Like every industry, snow removal has been elevated through science and technology. Our roads are pre-treated with a brine to keep us safe during the intial part of the snow event. Prior to hitting the spinner on the back of the plow, the salt is sprayed with a liquid brine/beet juice cocktail that helps minimize bouncing, initiates the chemical reaction of melting and also allows for greater effectiveness at lower temperatures. The trucks themselves are continually evolving as well.
The controls at the driver's seat resemble those of a small aircraft, controlling the height and angles of the blade as well as the distribution of salt and brine at the rear. While plowing there's a tremendous amount of snow coming over the blade, the hoods are designed to create a contoured airflow around the now-heated windshield to maximize driver visibility.
An ingenious auto-chain system prevents the plows from getting stuck by lowering an arm in front of the rear wheels. Spinning chains then converge where the tire meets the asphalt and replicates the performance of tire chains on eighteen wheelers without the damage to the road and vehicle that they cause.
Preventative Maintenance - So you take a highly corrosive substance, salt, and distribute tons of it from a heavy steel vehicle. As car owners we hurry to the carwash to rinse it away, at the maintenance facility they reload and get back on their route. The city's plows average 11 years old, which is significantly older than other cities. This is attributed to the exceptional maintenance they receive mechanically and environmentally. The beds are stainless steel, which isn't subject to the same damage as a traditional rolled-steel bed. Each plow is frequently scrubbed in a wash bay at the maintenace facility and treated with a de-salinator to minimize corrosion. Following the winter season, the snow plows are treated with an oil based rust inhibitor to insure a service life. At $160,000 to $180,000 EACH, the Roads Department recognizes the investment and gets the greatest possible usage out of them. Replacement is coordinated under a group-purchase by the state to maximize savings, and they stagger the replacement dates to promote affordability.
So do what you can to help the process and be safe at the same time.
- Stay off the roads during treatment if at all possible
- Avoid parking on the street
- Dig out fire hydrants
- Check on your elderly or homebound neighbors
If you have questions, concerns or issues, feel free to contact the Roads Department directly at 937-427-5540. As always, you're welcome to comment here or on our Facebook page!
Be safe Beavercreek! Click on the gallery pics below for image descriptions...