Advertisement

Archive for Monday, December 28, 2009

Holiday snowstorm will prove costly to city

City workers on Monday, December 28, 2009, add to a pile of snow removed from Lawrence's streets.

City workers on Monday, December 28, 2009, add to a pile of snow removed from Lawrence's streets.

December 28, 2009

Advertisement

Snow removal costing city

The cost of removing all the snow from this past weekend's storm is totaling about $300,000. That total is about the same amount the city spent removing snow through the entire winter last year. Enlarge video

Wintery photos

Have a good shot of a winter wonderland? Send it to us and we'll assemble a gallery of your photos.

By at least one measure, Lawrence’s Christmas Blizzard was as powerful as about nine storms combined.

City Hall leaders are estimating that the costs for city crews to clear Lawrence’s streets of snow will be about as much as the city spent for all nine storms that the city worked last winter.

“My guess right now, off the top of my head, is that we’ll spend $200,000, $300,000 or maybe a little more,” said Public Works Director Chuck Soules.

For the 2008-2009 snow season, the city spent $300,063 on snow removal costs. That money, however, was spread over nine different snow storms. All together, those storms dumped 10.6 inches of snow on the city. This single storm system dumped almost that much by itself.

But the timing of the recent storm also had a lot to do with the costs. City crews began working 12-hour shifts Thursday evening. On Christmas Day workers were paid double their normal salaries for working on a holiday, and in many cases, were paid time-and-a-half because the hours pushed them over 40 hours for the week.

The blowing nature of the snow also led to greater costs. The city hired Lawrence-based R.D. Johnson Excavating to help remove snow from streets. Soules said city officials decided to take the unusual step of hiring private help after it became obvious that the blowing snow would require streets to be plowed several times.

R.D. Johnson sent out employees with loaders, dumptrucks and road graders to help city crews.

“I’m not exactly sure right now how much we used them,” Soules said. “We kept asking them for more, and they kept getting us more.”

City Manager David Corliss said the city’s budget will survive. He said the city likely will take money out of the Public Works Department’s reserve funds to pay for the snow clearing.

“Right now, we’re moving snow, not invoices,” Corliss said. “This is a priority for us. We’ll spend the money necessary to move the snow. I know some people’s patience has been taxed by how long it has taken to get to every street. I know our workers’ patience has been taxed by how long it takes to move this much snow.”

Soules said the city’s salt and sand supplies have held up well during the storm. The city started this month with 4,000 tons of salt, 1,000 tons of sand and 2,500 tons of a salt-sand mix. The city also has an additional 1,000 tons of salt on order, if needed.

“We’re hoping, though, that we’ve had our turn and Mother Nature will give us a break,” Soules said.

Comments

parrothead8 4 years, 3 months ago

Ricky_Vaughn (Anonymous) says…

parrothead8 (Anonymous) says… How dangerous was it for us to remain at home with our families on Christmas Day?

Some of us had to travel to get to our families, wiseguy.

Sorry, Rick. My bad. I just assumed everyone heard about the storm coming two days in advance and planned accordingly. By the way...how's your arm feelin' these days? I think the Indians could use you again. ;)

0

puddleglum 4 years, 3 months ago

cue "pop goes the weasel"

so much for global warming

obama's fault

0

jonas_opines 4 years, 3 months ago

“…Lawrence’s Christmas Blizzard was as powerful as about nine storms combined. “ Or ten ninjas."

Sorry snap, but you're absolutely wrong. The answer is as powerful as One ninja. You forgot to calculate in the Law of Conservation of Ninjutsu, as follows

"In any martial arts fight, there is only a finite amount of ninjutsu available to each side in a given encounter. As a result, one Ninja is a deadly threat, but an army of them are cannon fodder."

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ConservationOfNinjutsu?from=Main.ConservationOfNinjitsu

0

hawkergrl 4 years, 3 months ago

Thank you to all who gave up time with their families this holiday to provide snow removal for Lawrence (city and R.D). My boyfriend was one of the many out pushing snow throughout the holiday and calculated over 60 hours the last 3 days! You guys can complain all you want, but given the intensity of this storm, it was a job well done. Double time and time and a half is well deserved...

0

prolifersforwar 4 years, 3 months ago

This is the kind of government intrusion that makes Merica a totalitarian state. Leave the snow on our streets! Stay out of our lives! Less government!

0

George_Braziller 4 years, 3 months ago

Mattress - It wouldn't have been in the driving lane, it would have been along the curb.


"Because then they would be putting it in the drive lane and you would then complain they didnt clear that."

0

MattressMan 4 years, 3 months ago

Number_1_Grandma (Anonymous) says… Why can't city workers take off other days when roads, weather is better?

Then you'd be complaining why that pothole wasnt fixed after the snow melted, or why the catch basin was wasnt draining or...

doc1 (Anonymous) says… Darn. I was hoping the city could buy more new crosswalk signals like the one at 6th and Mass. We need more crosswalk signals that talk out loud and tell you to walk.

Doc, why dont you try standing at an intersection with walk signals, close your eyes, wait a few minutes then cross the street.

SWJayhawk13 (Anonymous) says… It would've been nice if they would've prepared BEFORE the storm hit instead of starting to plow the streets once the worst of the storm was hitting. On Christmas morning, my parents had to dig their 4-wheel drive truck out of the driveway to come get me (I got stranded because of the storm). As we were driving home, we saw a city snow plow plowing the parking lot at the water treatment plant. That seemed a little ridiculous to me. They can plow the parking lot of a building where no one was even working at (at least on Christmas day),

Sounds to me as if you werent prepared before the storm and you had plenty of notice to be. As for the water treatment plant being idle on a holiday, I dont think so, otherwise you wouldnt have the water to wash away the tears after crying about the snow and the city's response.

George_Braziller (Anonymous) says… I spent an hour yesterday shoveling out a parking spot in front of my house because there isn't any off-street parking on our block. Ten minutes later a truck with a plow blasted down the street and pushed most of it back. Don't know why they didn't turn the blade the other direction so the snow went to the other side of the street where parking isn't allowed.

Because then they would be putting it in the drive lane and you would then complain they didnt clear that.

lawrencenerd (Anonymous) says… This town is awful at snow removal. Funny how they claim to have so much sand and salt to use, but why the hell isn't it making it onto the roads? Whatever they were spending on snow removal last year wasn't enough either, because they failed to plow and salt the roads properly then too.

Ok nerd you tell us all how much is enough salt/sand that they should use? Why you're at it run for commission then implement a better snow plan than they are currently using.

0

Ricky_Vaughn 4 years, 3 months ago

parrothead8 (Anonymous) says… How dangerous was it for us to remain at home with our families on Christmas Day?

Some of us had to travel to get to our families, wiseguy.

0

Flap Doodle 4 years, 3 months ago

"...Lawrence’s Christmas Blizzard was as powerful as about nine storms combined. " Or ten ninjas.

0

ack 4 years, 3 months ago

parrotthead your missing the point. If the firetrucks, police, or ambulance can't get through because a car is stuck in the way or because the streets haven't been plowed i call that an emergency.-response time would be awful. also the point was that plowing is PW's job.even during the holidays.. I was only offering a solution. with an added bit of common sense. Thank goodness there were no major fires or issues where vehicles weren't able to reach the scene in a timely manner On the issue. I didn't see you comment on that--. if you will notice majority of the comments were not happy about the job done. Solutions are much better rather then ranting.Simply the city has to do a better job. The solution I offered has been sucessful in other villages up north.and that was the point to my comment.....

0

lawrencenerd 4 years, 3 months ago

This town is awful at snow removal. Funny how they claim to have so much sand and salt to use, but why the hell isn't it making it onto the roads? They act like they don't expect it to snow ever, and really I think this is only an issue because there is enough snow that they can't ignore it. Whatever they were spending on snow removal last year wasn't enough either, because they failed to plow and salt the roads properly then too. The only difference is they can't ignore it and wait for it to melt when there is this much of it like they usually do.

0

Jimo 4 years, 3 months ago

I, for one, appreciate all the work done by crews on Christmas Eve and Christmas and the following weekend. It was an unusually difficult snow and no one was more than inconvenienced by staying at home where everyone had light, heat, and no doubt plenty of entertainment.

But yes the City could also use a better emergency plan that thinks through using private resources to clear streets the next time (2012? 2015?) a similar situation repeats.

0

George_Braziller 4 years, 3 months ago

I spent an hour yesterday shoveling out a parking spot in front of my house because there isn't any off-street parking on our block. Ten minutes later a truck with a plow blasted down the street and pushed most of it back. Don't know why they didn't turn the blade the other direction so the snow went to the other side of the street where parking isn't allowed.

0

MyDogHoudini 4 years, 3 months ago

Thank you, city workers, for working so hard on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to make our lives safer and better. I was just amazed to see a plow truck clean my road at 9:30 AM Christmas morning. Some lesser towns around here did not get their streets cleaned for days after the snow. But Lawrence city workers did an amazing job. I hope the irritating, ungrateful posts on this story don't get you down. I think most of us are really thankful for the great job you did.

0

Randall Barnes 4 years, 3 months ago

NOTHING BUT A BUNCH OF TOPEKA REJECTS HERE IN LAWRENCE,YES YOU CRYBABY, THE ONE SAYING THE CITY DIDN'T DO A GOOD JOB PLOWING THE SNOW. AWESOME JOB STREET CREWS......I LISTEN TO THE SCANNER TRAFFIC AND THE CREWS WERE OUT THERE WORKING AS HARD AS THEY COULD AROUND THE CLOCK.OHHHH WAIT AN AMBULANCE IS STUCK CAN'T GET DOWN THE STREET SORRY PEOPLE CANT SAVE YOUR LIFE I HAVE TO PLOW THE CRY BABIES STREET FIRST.

0

texburgh 4 years, 3 months ago

Doc1 says, "I was hoping the city could buy more new crosswalk signals like the one at 6th and Mass. We need more crosswalk signals that talk out loud and tell you to walk. I guess they will have to cut some other important program to get more worthless crosswalk systems."

Yet another ignorant complainer. I bet Doc doesn't want to pay taxes yet will always be the first in line to gripe about how government does not meet his personal needs - like clearing HIS street first.

As for the crosswalks, Doc, did you ever consider that these kinds of signals are important for blind and visually impaired citizens? Of course you didn't because you clearly don't give a crap about anyone but your own "overtaxed" self and your uncleared street.

And yes, the blind went for years without talking signals. Is that an excuse not to take advantage of new technology? I went through college with a manual typewriter and a library card catalog. I guess we shouldn't let college students today use their personal computers or the internet. I'm just applying your logic, Doc.

0

parrothead8 4 years, 3 months ago

ack (Anonymous) says… Common Sense: Yes it was Christmas but also yes it is a job that needs to be done. If there was a fire would we allow the fire department not fight the fire. because it's a holiday.

That doesn't seem like a fair comparison. If a fire is left unchecked, it endangers life and property. If snow is left unchecked, it melts. How dangerous was it for us to remain at home with our families on Christmas Day?

0

ack 4 years, 3 months ago

If the city would only look at what cities about the same size as Lawrence do in the North. 3- 4" inches and above snowfall -hire private companies to plow and salt secondary streets, cul-da sac, dead ends and circles The City and County handle primary roads. All of this would be done by contract with a set fee on a yearly basis Common Sense: Yes it was Christmas but also yes it is a job that needs to be done. If there was a fire would we allow the fire department not fight the fire. because it's a holiday.

0

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

The city hired RD Johnson who brought out road graders and front loaders. Noticed private dump trucks hauling snow.

Those road graders can move some snow and provide a neat edge along the curbs. Followed one on 15th Sunday evening.

0

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

City workers can do sidewalk,street and curb repairs. This can keep them plenty busy in Lawrence,Kansas. Then when snow and/ or high winds come along they can help out with that.

According to what I read privatization of city services is actually more expensive. As I stated the low bid may not be the best deal.

The city keeps quite a large sum of money stashed back in "contingency funds" so these storms will not break the bank. City government only claims to be broke until something comes up that THEY( CC) want to do.

At 3:30 AM christmas day we got stuck at BB and Crestline trying to get a midwife to my son's home. Then were brought to a halt in the 2900 block on University Drive due to drifted snow. Luckily we brought shovels and were able to dig out at BB and Crestline. The midwife and my wife decided to walk in the snow and wind. Got the car unstuck,picked them up then drove till we could drive no further on University. The midwife and wife then walked the rest of the way in the wind,snow and drifted snow. The only way out was to back out for about a block and a half. Where traffic had driven we were able to get traction.

The city cannot be everywhere 24/7 so sometimes we have to make things work.

0

gilly 4 years, 3 months ago

It's good to see from the photo that we have dump trucks and means to get snow into them so snow can (and has been) hauled away. Mass Street was also cleared of snow Monday morning.

So we have the means, we just need better planning for snow removal. For a major predicted snowfall, that should include getting everything out and running as the snow is falling; it's a lot harder to pry packed snow and ice off once the snowfall has stopped and everyone's trying to get around.

Here's another location that could have used a bit more care to be safer: Bob Billings and Crestline. Bob Billings had been plowed somewhat, Crestline less so, and by the time I got there in the morning it was filled with snow, slush, and ice. The walk signals on the stop lights were not accessible. Neither was the bus stop on the north side of Bob Billings, and the sidewalk there hadn't been cleared (I think that belongs to the Meadowbrook Apartments). There's no sidewalk on the south side of the street, so the bus stops weren't accessible there, either. Not great for drivers, and very bad for pedestrians, and there were a few.

0

SWJayhawk13 4 years, 3 months ago

My main point is that the city totally mishandled this. Although for what it's worth, other than the guy plowing the parking lot at the water treatment plant, I never actually saw any city trucks plowing. I saw more private companies plowing than I did any city trucks.

0

9070811 4 years, 3 months ago

SWJayhawk13 (Anonymous) says..

"I don't want to pay them for time-and-a-half when they don't even do their d@mn jobs."

You obviously do not understand chain of commands or the delegation of tasks. The plow truck drivers can only preform the orders they are given.

0

situveux1 4 years, 3 months ago

sorry, but whatever those guys were paid on Christmas Day, they deserved.

0

SWJayhawk13 4 years, 3 months ago

It would've been nice if they would've prepared BEFORE the storm hit instead of starting to plow the streets once the worst of the storm was hitting. On Christmas morning, my parents had to dig their 4-wheel drive truck out of the driveway to come get me (I got stranded because of the storm). As we were driving home, we saw a city snow plow plowing the parking lot at the water treatment plant. That seemed a little ridiculous to me. They can plow the parking lot of a building where no one was even working at (at least on Christmas day), but they couldn't plow the main roads? The city horribly mishandled this whole fiasco. They had more than enough advance warning that this storm was coming and just how severe it was going to be. They should've taken measures to prepare for it instead of waiting until the absolute last minute to start trying to fix it. What a joke...

And as of three days after the storm, the city still had not plowed my grandparent's street (they live down the street from Sue Hack and some of the city commissioners). Finally, the guy that was plowing for Brandon Woods plowed their street. That's absolutely ridiculous. I don't want to pay them for time-and-a-half when they don't even do their damn jobs.

0

lynchburgsbest 4 years, 3 months ago

well it wont cost them too much because they sure did a bad job at plowing this year

0

absolutelyridiculous 4 years, 3 months ago

How about we let the city workers take the holiday off, the snow stays on the streets, ambulances an fire trucks can't run and people die from car wrecks and heart attacks? Who cares people. This is what we pay taxes for. If a city worker has to work the holiday away from family, they SHOULD make double pay at least. Thank you to our city and state transportation folks for keeping everything moving. You have done a fantastic job.

0

budwhysir 4 years, 3 months ago

thats alot of sidewalk tickets

0

doc1 4 years, 3 months ago

Darn. I was hoping the city could buy more new crosswalk signals like the one at 6th and Mass. We need more crosswalk signals that talk out loud and tell you to walk. I guess they will have to cut some other important program to get more worthless crosswalk systems.

0

redmoonrising 4 years, 3 months ago

Those that gripe about the workers getting overtime for holidays and extra hours, just wondering if you would do the same as you preach. And it is time and a half for hours over 40/week and double for holidays imb.

If we bring back all the laid off city workers, what do we use and pay them for when they are not shoveling snow then. Sounds good but it's cheaper to hire it done privately than to put people back on the payroll full time when we're trying to cut down on costs/budget.

And if they didn't plow streets that people had already driven on, then everyone would gripe about that. This is a no win situation for the city as someone is always going to find something wrong with the way they do things. For heavens sake, people this was a storm that hit on a major holiday. My place didn't even see a shovel or bobcat until Sat. afternoon. I could gripe all I want to my landlord but bet it wouldn't make a difference.

0

sierraclub 4 years, 3 months ago

Hey, here is an ideal. After going by 10th and Vermont and seeing all of the people standing around and smoking, I thought, why not have them clean off sidewalks for room and board??

0

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

I say it is time to bring back some laid off workers in order to take care of business. After all the needs for city services are greater now than 20 years ago.

The city can get quality work for less with municipal employees so I've read. In this case there was not time for bids. Lowest bids may not be the best deal around. I say it is time to bring back some laid off workers in order to take care of business.

City best get those Bobcats out and begin clearing walks around their areas and the hiking trails.

Another suggestion is once a residential street has been driven on why not treat these streets with a double dose of sand and salt ONLY….. no plowing.

no plowing would prevent residents cars from being buried? I had to clear out my drive AGAIN after the plow. Then I had to dig out my truck. Yes our street had been driven on plenty before the plowing so navigation was NOT necessarily a problem. Between sand,salt and sun the street would have been fine eventually.

Sometimes snow plow trucks driving over snow can make streets easy enough to navigate although slowly.

Intersections on the other hand is another story. Got to be able to stop.

Just saying it may be time to review how things get done.

Generally speaking ….. a good job overall.

Again I say it is time to bring back some laid off workers in order to take care of business. After all the needs for city services are greater now than 20 years ago. Let's get quality work for less plus give a boost to our local economy.

0

rlsd 4 years, 3 months ago

I am hopeful all the sidewalks will be cleared promptly for safety issues!!!

0

GetItRight 4 years, 3 months ago

City could clear $2K on my block alone ticketing homeowners for not clearing their sidewalks....sounds like it's time to enforce that ordinance! They could make up that $300K bill quickly, and then some!

0

Randall Barnes 4 years, 3 months ago

DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ANYTHING OVER 40 HOURS IS OVERTIME AND ON CHRISTMAS DAY YES THAT IS PREMIUM PAY.EACH YEAR THEY SET ASIDE FUNDS FOR SNOW REMOVAL AND MOST YEARS THEY DON'T EVEN COME CLOSE TO USING THAT. SO WHAT EVER IS LEFT OVER SHOULD BE SET ASIDE IN AN ACCOUNT FOR THE NEXT YEAR (YOU KNOW A RESERVE ????????) AND I WOULD LIKE TO SEE YOU OUT THERE WORKING 12 HOURS A DAY AND ON CHRISTMAS DAY WITH STRAIGHT PAY.

0

Number_1_Grandma 4 years, 3 months ago

Why can't city workers take off other days when roads, weather is better? Sure pay them a day-and-a-half but not overtime pay. Exchange the pay for days during the week when they're not working or needed. There will be days this winter for this!

0

lmb 4 years, 3 months ago

Does that mean workers were paid 3 times their regular rate or that some were paid double and others paid time and a half?

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.