Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Snow Removal in Calgary

I'm sure a lot of you folks are not too pleased with the poor job the city has done in regards to plowing snow and keeping the roads and highways clean in Calgary. Record numbers of auto accidents because of icy roads have prompted angry calls to the municipal government, but the Aldermen and Alderwomen are not taking action the way the citizens want them to.

I, myself, sent an email to my ward's alderman and here's the reply I recieved from his office;

(Note: text in Violet are my comments)

Mr. McCoy,

Thank you for your email sent to Alderman Stevenson's office.

I have forwarded your email to our Roads department. All areas in Calgary are experiencing the same difficulties and we are requesting that citizens be patient. We received the following information from our Roads department on Wednesday and I hope you find it helpful. These stats are before the snow received Wednesday.

(that's what they do.....send you a bunch of stats..)

Our SNIC material usage in all of 2008 was approximately 40,000 tonnes of salt and 48,000 tonnes of pickle.(pickle...??!)

Since December 20 we have removed 2,600 truckloads of snow from the downtown core and surrounding areas. Our SNIC Priority One and Priority Two Route Maps identify over 7,600 lane km of road network to maintain. Our sander trucks have travelled over 163,000 km maintaining the SNIC routes - the equivalent of driving around the equator four times. (jeez....must be a huge accomplishment eh)

Our sander drivers have logged over 11,000 hours of driving time behind the wheel. Our grader operators have logged over 1,700 hours of operating time.

Priority One: Major roadways with traffic volumes exceeding 20,000 vehicle per day
Central Business District streets which carry 8,000 vehicles per day
Designated routes on high-traffic-volume arterial roads

Priority Two: Roads which carry 5,000 t- 19,000 vehicles per day
Traffic lights and controlled crosswalks
Designated emergency routes (hospital, police and fire stations)

Priority Three: Designated feeders collector routes (too important to give it priority 3, IMHO)
Bus routes
School and playground zones
Designated hills
Stop.yield signs and bus stops

Priority Four: Designated hills

Sanding and Salting

Our crews are continuing to respond to snow conditions according to the Council Policy for Snow and Ice Control. During periods of snow like we experienced Wednesday, our sander drivers shift their focus back to conditions on the Priority One and Two Routes. When winter driving conditions are stabilized on the major roads, the crews shift their focus to the Priority Three and Four Routes. This entails spot sanding at designated feeders, collectors and bus routes as well as spot sanding at identified trouble spots. (ookaay....what priority are McKnight and John Laurine Blvds then....?)


Plows are continuing work on Priority Two and Three Routes. Some work is necessary to continue to move snow further off the roads where initial plowing occurred but the road width is narrow because of the buildup of snow. Crews are also attending to windrows of snow at bus stops. (windrows is a misnomer, they should call it plowrows, as it is the plowing trucks who create these barriers in the first place)

Our crews have investigated a number of residential road plowing requests recently. In cases where our crews responded to alleviate conditions on a complaint basis, they continued to monitor the effects of our efforts. Our observations, and the public response, are similar to what we experienced when we conducted a trial of residential snow plowing a number of years ago. When our trucks and equipment respond, they often break through the existing hard pack due to their weight. Often that results in worse conditions that if we stayed away.(have to agree with that...you guys make matters worse).

Also, since we cannot remove snow from the residential roads, the windrows we create from plowing often cause a new set of problems. If temperatures drop, the windrows freeze and become harder to deal with. Cars cannot climb over the windrows to get into the travel lane. (unless one is driving a Land Cruiser).

The windrows also hamper the flow of water to the catch basins during warm weather, resulting in flooding problems.

Snow Removal and Storage

The snow removal crews are working on Priority One and Priority Two Routes. Crews are focusing their efforts on the structures and bridges. Where there are school and playground zones on the Priority One and Priority Two routes, they are also being evaluated.

Sidewalk Snow Removal

Hand crews are working on Priority Two and Priority Three locations with shovels and small equipment. Roads Maintenance Crews are contracted by Calgary Transit to clear bus stops, and this is occurring within the Priority Three work lists. (I drive quite a bit; haven't seen any...)

The Snow and Ice Control unit has been working around the clock to alleviate the problems. Again, thank you for your email and if you have any further questions or concerns please don't hesitate to contact us.

Best regards,

Lynne Banning
Community Assistant,
Ward 3 Office of Alderman Stevenson,
City of Calgary
Phone (403) 268-4854
Fax (403) 268-8091
PO Box 2100. Stn M Calgary, AB T2P 3M5
Proudly Serving a Great City

Hmmm.....same old response. Winter ain't over yet. Let's see what we have in store for the rest of the season...

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