Friday, December 21, 2007
What about that snow?
After last week's storms, Carlisle's Department of Public Works (DPW) was still cleaning up the roads as the paper went to press on Wednesday with more snow in the forecast. Asked to comment on December's weather, DPW Superintendent Gary Davis replied concisely, "Seems snowy."
Early Wednesday morning he had three trucks out sanding to "touch up" some of the icy spots on roads and work was continuing in places to plow snow banks farther away from the roads. During the peak of a storm, he explained that 13 or 14 trucks are used. Eleven are town vehicles and Davis calls up two or three private contractors when needed. Everyone is given a set of roads to plow. When they finish their route, they just start plowing it again until the storm ends.
Comparing the storms on Thursday, December 13, with the snowfall last Saturday and Sunday, Davis said he prefers snow at night or on weekends because "as long as people are off the roads, things are easier." The first storm fell while commuters were still on the roads, and Davis said that when traffic backs up, the plows are delayed, "One car would get stuck in the snow and 20 would back up behind it."
The price of road salt is about $50 per ton and Davis has already spent half his $16,000 yearly budget for salt. Sand is mixed in differing concentrations with the salt, he explained, depending on weather conditions and the type of road. For instance, more salt is applied on the main traffic arteries than on secondary roads. Less salt is used in the town center, where sodium levels in drinking water have been an issue, and almost no salt is used on dead-end roads with little traffic. The sand costs about $10 per ton. Davis noted that costs are higher with freezing rain because the improved traction only lasts temporarily and salt and sand must be reapplied throughout the storm. He said, "You're better off with six inches of snow."
© 2007 The