Rock County crews installing six miles of snow fencing

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Shelly Birkelo
Sunday, December 8, 2013

What it is: Rock County Public Works crews are working to install nearly six miles of snow fencing along roads.

Although the work typically is finished by the end of November, road construction projects kept crews busy. Snow fencing installation will continue into December, Public Works Director Ben Coopman said.

“We're lucky the snow has held off,” he said.

A half dozen crews will install the estimated 30,000 feet of snow fence along state, county and town roads, Coopman said. He said fencing sections up to hundreds of feet long are scattered throughout the county.

The placement of snow fencing is based on the experience of snowplow drivers who know where snow creates blowing and drifting problems, Coopman said.

Property owners are asked if fencing can be installed on their land.

Snow fencing slows the blowing snow, causing it to form drifts downwind of the fencing rather than on the road, Coopman said.

"The idea is to catch that snow back and away from the road," he said.

Coopman said a strategic highway research report indicates snow fencing is cost effective.

"It claims that the cost of removing snow from the road versus the cost of putting up snow fencing is 100 times higher," he said.

Coopman said it costs the public works department between $20,000 and $25,000 for the staff time to put up and take down the snow fencing each year.

This year, it also cost $18,000 for new snow fencing, the first time in three years the county has purchased fencing.

The fencing will be part of the county landscape until crews remove it in spring.

"We usually wait until the warmer part of March and into April when the frost thaws," Coopman said.

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