Primary roads cleared in three hours: Started 3 am, back at it just after 9 am – giving it another go before the commuters return.

By Staff

February 5, 2014


She was out shoveling snow from her driveway at 6 am and there wasn’t any show falling then but Cathy Robertson, Director of Roads and Parks Maintenance knew she was in for a long hard day.  The weather forecasts were consistent – there was going to be a lot of snow.

She probably isn’t tall enough for her feet to reach the pedals of the more than 25 pieces of heavy equipment she gets out on the road when the snow starts falling by Cathy Robertson, Director of Roads and Parks Maintenance runs a tight operation that clear the city’s primary roads in three hours.

Robertson’s day had the 25+ vehicles she has at her disposal out on the roads at 3 am – “we wanted to get one go at the roads before traffic begins and – given that it takes three hours to cover all the primary roads that would get the work done by 6 am leaving room for the commuters.

As soon as the primary roads are done – the equipment gets out and begins work on the secondary roads and,  because the accumulation of snow was getting worse,  Robertson had her equipment out on the roads doing the primary roads a second time just after 9 am when she hoped the rush hour was over.

The drill is to get the primary roads done, move on to the secondary and back to the primary if that’s what’s needed.  If they are caught up then the equipment moves on to the local roads.

For today’s weather Robertson had a handle on it by noon but kept watching the weather reports to get a sense of what was coming our way.

The city has direct access to radar images and uses several weather services.  “If we need more detailed reports Robertson said she can call the weather service directly. “We don’t do that very often” she adds “but we can if we have to – there is some amazing detail available from these services.”

One of the more than 25 pieces of equipment out clearing the primary roads – today they were out at 3 am.

What is all this doing to her budget  – “We are certainly over” but in November the department was under budget compared to last year and “we base our budgets on five-year averages”.  If things really get wild there is a snow removal reserve fund the department can draw on.

All those roads marked in red get cleared within a three-hour time frame. Pretty impressive.

The RPM people break the city into 25 zones with at least one truck assigned to each zone.   Three hours to clear every primary road – not bad.

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