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City approves 2019 winter operations plan

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Street Department Chief Darryl Wehner, left, and Public Works Director Gary Zuroff detail the revised winter operations plan at the Oct. 15 meeting of Dickinson City Commissioners. Among changes, the city will use contractors to help remove snow from resdiential areas during major storm events. (Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press)

Public Works is ready to tackle the 2019 winter season.

A revised winter operations plan was approved by Dickinson city commissioners at their Oct. 15 meeting.

A problem for the department has been reaching residential areas during a storm.

The city has to prioritize Level 1 and Level 2 streets, which are the major arterials, such as Villard Street, and minor arterials.

"A lot of the areas, if it just snowed and didn't blow, or a storm didn't continue to come down, we would be able to get our Level 1 and 2 (streets) done within 24 hours, but that does not happen in a bigger storm," Public Works Director Gary Zuroff said. "A lot of our most recent storms, we're out on some of these high-priority areas plowing them two, three, four times a day."

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After 4 inches of snowfall, if the city is still working on its priority streets, contractors will be hired to remove snow in residential areas.

"I think that will help a lot on the wind rows on driveways, if we can get to them quicker and sooner," Zuroff said. "Again, if we can get to those, we're going to try to get to them. But if we can't, that's we'll have the contractors do that."

He added, "We'll see how that approach works this year."

Mayor Scott Decker identified problem areas where open fields cause large drifts to form on city streets, including the West Ridge area, 15th Street and State Avenue, 21st Street toward Dickinson Middle School, and north side addition roads.

Snow fences may not be the best solution to the problem, though, Street Department Chief Darryl Wehner said.

"One problem is, where do you put them?" he said. "The wind doesn't always come from the same direction. The protection area is roughly 15 to 60 feet downwind from the fence, so you have to have them about 75 feet back."

With the 15th Street/State Avenue intersection, for example, that land is private property.

The city uses snow wind rows to alleviate the problem.

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"Every time it snows we re-plow and built them up; that way the snow starts catching on those, and we get less snow making it to the streets," Wehner said. "They're kind of self-adjusting, you could say, and they remove themselves in the spring."

Public Works is "willing to look at any tool" that helps relieve those areas, Zuroff said.

A recent large snow event, Zuroff explained, required over 900 hours of equipment usage.

"It's not just our larger plows. We have blowers going, motor graders, brine trucks, salt trucks, haul dump trucks. And that doesn't include our sidewalks or trails," he said. "We're out there trying to keep the roads clear and passable for the public."

Public Works also plans to improve communication with the public, Zuroff said.

The DickinsonWorks app will be used for snow emergency notifications, as will posts on the city's website and Facebook account.

"If an snow route emergency is declared, those areas that are signed, we need the traffic off there," he said, "and we'll try to let the public know in many ways, any way we can."

Questions and concerns can also be directed to Dickinson Public Works at 456-7979.

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