Public works crews prepare for winter
JANESVILLE What it is: Equipment preparation by city of Janesville and Rock County employees before the first measurable snowfall hits.
Public works employees for the city start preparing snow removal equipment in October. Initial work includes making sure salters on trucks are operable and that hydraulics on snowplow trucks are functioning.
"As the (snow) season gets closer, we'll start hooking up plows, make sure hydraulics and controllers are functional and do any repairs we might not have made after last season," said John Whitcomb, operations director.
At the Rock County highway shop, truck equipment is being changed over, double checked and made ready to go as needed.
"What takes time is putting the wing plows back on," said Ben Coopman, county public works director.
Both the city and county participate in the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's bid process to buy salt.
"We're in pretty good shape," Whitcomb said. "Had two full sheds left over after the winter of 2011-12. Both sheds are full to the brim."
Coopman agreed, saying, "We had a pretty good inventory left on hand from last year so we only had to take delivery of a little bit this year."
The city also uses salt brine, liquid calcium chloride and GeoMelt as other road de-icers.
"We'll have to replenish the GeoMelt and salt brine throughout the season but the liquid calcium generally lasts more than two seasons," Whitcomb said.
"The county makes a sand/salt mixture to be more cost-effective," Coopman said.
The city has 26 route trucks, three motor graders and smaller pieces of equipment to plow about 800 lane miles. The county has 50 trucks that plow 2,900-lane miles.
Janesville's budget provides for plowing to begin when 2 to 3 inches of snow has accumulated.
"In December, we're more likely to plow toward the lower end of that," Whitcomb said. "But if we're getting into March and depending on the forecast, we might be inclined toward the high end of that just because the snow doesn't hang around as much in March as it does in late December."
County plow trucks hit the road when the first snowflakes fall, Coopman said.
"We're 75 percent ready for the first measurable snowfall and can take care of anything at this point if we have to," he said.