Lawrence’s entire roster of Street Division personnel will continue dumping sand, spreading salt and scraping blades Tuesday on city streets.
Then the 40 employees will go back on special shifts Wednesday — 12 hours on, 12 hours off — to battle the next snowstorm, expected to be the fourth “gift” of frozen precipitation dropped on the area since Christmas Eve.
“It’s going to be beautiful next week,” said Tom Orzulak, the division’s manager, as crews mixed salt and sand outside his office at 11th Street and Haskell Avenue. “Then all this will just be a bad memory.”
In the meantime, Lawrence residents, business owners and others will continue grappling with the recurring nightmare — “It’s like ‘Groundhog Day,’ with the same thing over and over and over,” Orzulak says — that has endured into the new year: untimely snowfall, plummeting temperatures and mounting complaints about slippery conditions that can slow or impede safe travel.
Orzulak understands the inevitable criticism. He knows people want their roads cleared, even before snow stops falling. And they certainly don’t like to see it remain, especially the first stuff that fell even before Santa had managed to take to the sky in his sleigh.
So the city’s crews will be out in force Tuesday, trying to crack through some of the ice that has been packed onto neighborhood streets since the holiday.
But be warned. While crews have hit every street in town multiple times — armed with salt, sand and snowplows — some areas remain far from acceptable, Orzulak said, because of the simple realities of city living.
“There are still places where we have cars parked side by side,” he said. “We can’t even get a truck past them.”
But they’ll keep at it. Crews were at full strength through the Christmas holiday weekend, Orzulak said, and workers will continue to report for duty as directed.
“There isn’t a street in this town that doesn’t need more work,” Orzulak said.
With the temperature expected to creep above 30 degrees next week, he said, melting should help shoulder much of the workload.
“Then we’ll be worried about the river flooding,” he said, with a chuckle.