Public Works prepares for winter, buys new plows

Sean C. Morgan

Sweet Home Public Works is better prepared for a snowstorm like the one in late February with a pair of new plow blades.

The first was among the tools available for the department’s new Kubota Tool Cat, said Streets Crew Leader Brian Womack Thursday. “We bought a big snowplow yesterday, and we just put it into service.”

The new one is a folding plow blade that can attach to one of the two used dump trucks the city purchased in the past year.

The blade cost $10,000. The truck cost $26,000.

Womack said Public Works purchased the new blades because of the snowstorm last winter.

“Last year took me by surprise as a director in a rainy community that’s not supposed to have snow,” said Public Works Director Greg Springman, but long-term forecasts are showing a similar pattern again this year, although it may be a little warmer.

All the city had then was its road grader, which is not efficient, Womack said.

“Now we have a full dedicated four-wheel drive truck with a plow,” Springman said.

The new plow addresses one of the major problems using the grader. By folding, it can be adjusted when passing driveways, which avoids blocking them with piles of snow.

Driveways are something the state and county do not face as much as the city, said Operations Manager Dominic Valloni. The city spent a lot of time going back and opening up driveways after the grader went by.

When passing driveways, the driver can pull up either side of the blade and avoid that in the first place, Valloni said.

It gives the driver options, Springman said. “You can put it off to the center. You can push it off to the side.”

Public Works has had a plow blade for years, but it’s a solid blade with no way to attach it to a vehicle, he said.

Big snow storms don’t hit too often, but “if it comes, we’ve got it,” Womack said. “We’re set up, ready to go right now, for bad weather. I sure wish we had this last year.”

“We did well last year with what we had,” Springman said. “I think we’ll be better prepared.”

Typically, when snow arrives, Public Works crews are up sanding all of the hills and curves, Womack said, and depending on how intense the storm is, the major intersections.

Springman said one of the next things will be deciding whether to continue sanding or turn to a liquid that the state and county use in advance of a storm to keep snow from building up on the roads.

“We do a little bit of sanding, but I think we’re going to be moving toward something else,” Springman said.

The Tool Cat also came with a brush tool, a broom, that can be used for cleaning sidewalks, Springman said.