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Archive for Saturday, November 12, 2011

City to spray brine to keep major Lawrence streets clear this winter

City crews were on the streets early Jan. 20, 2011 in order to get the snow off of Massachusetts Street and other roads downtown. This winter, city officials hope a salt water solution applied before inclement weather will help keep roads clear.

City crews were on the streets early Jan. 20, 2011 in order to get the snow off of Massachusetts Street and other roads downtown. This winter, city officials hope a salt water solution applied before inclement weather will help keep roads clear.

November 12, 2011

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Lawrence city officials are hoping that a little salt water will help with snow and ice this winter — and no, they’re not talking about a trip to a warm seaside beach.

A select group of major city streets will get sprayed by city crews with a saltwater solution prior to each forecasted winter storm. The brine is designed to make it more difficult for snow and ice to accumulate on the roads.

“The other places that use it say it has a huge impact on keeping the streets clear,” said Mark Thiel, the city’s assistant director of public works. “They say it has a pretty immediate impact.”

The brine won’t be spread on residential streets, but it will be used on most every major arterial in the city — including Iowa, Wakarusa, Kasold, Massachusetts, North Second, Sixth, 23rd and 31st streets. As the city gets more comfortable with the program, plans call for it to be expanded citywide in future years.

Thiel said the new program is expected to be a more effective way of pre-treating streets compared with spreading dry salt and sand on the road. He said about 40 percent of the dry material gets blown away or pushed to the side of the roads by traffic. City crews will continue to spread traditional salt and sand on the roads during storms.

But even that practice will have a new twist to it. About 25 percent of the city’s salt and sand trucks will be equipped with a device that allows the salt and sand to be wetted before it comes out of the spreader. The wet material will stick to the roads better and the water will cause the salt to immediately start working.

The city plans to implement several other changes to its winter weather practices as well. They include:

• A new website that will allow users to see nearly real-time video from six cameras on major roads in the city. The cameras will give people an opportunity to see with their own eyes the condition of city streets, Thiel said. The cameras will provide views at various locations along Sixth Street, Massachusetts, Vermont, 19th, Iowa, and 23rd streets. Thiel said the number of cameras will expand as the city upgrades its Intelligent Transportation System, which uses cameras to allow traffic engineers to monitor roadways to combat congestion.

• A new mapping system on the website that will allow users to see in real-time where snow plows are. The map also will show which residential areas already have been plowed.

“We hope this will be a benefit in reducing some anxiety of residents,” Thiel said. “They’ll be able to look at the map and see that we are on the way.”

Users can access the map and cameras during winter storms at the city’s website, lawrenceks.org/snow.

• Letters recently were sent to several dozen blocks across the city asking residents to refrain from parking on the street during snowstorms. Thiel said the letters are just a request. In other words, the city won’t be issuing any fines for people who continue to park on the streets. Thiel said the locations — which are scattered throughout the city — were selected based on feedback from snowplow operators.

• Snow-shoveling duties on a handful of private sidewalks will be taken over by city crews. Thiel said sidewalks near major intersections such as Sixth and Iowa, 23rd and Iowa, Ninth and Emery, Sixth and Michigan and few others will be cleared by Parks and Recreation crews because of the large amounts of snow that plows deposit on the sidewalks.

“We’re going to do this on a very limited basis,” Thiel said. “They are mainly locations on arterials where our snowplows are creating a situation that is impossible for the property owners.”

One aspect of the city’s snow-plowing operations that won’t change is how the city plows the snow. City Commissioner Mike Amyx said he had received several questions from residents about why the snow couldn’t be pushed to the middle of the streets instead of the curbs, where the piled snow blocks driveways.

But Tom Orzulak, street division manager, said pushing the snow to the middle of the streets wouldn’t be feasible, unless the city spent the money to then scoop it up and haul it off. He said city streets have a crown that causes them to drain from the middle out. If the snow is piled up in the middle of the street, the melted snow will spread across the street and likely re-freeze overnight.

Last year the city spent about $625,000 to deal with 11 snow or ice events that resulted in 33.8 inches of snow.

Comments

irvan moore 3 years, 1 month ago

another solution (and cheap) to some of the snow problems would be to make the one way streets and a few other main streets snow emergency routes and not allow parking and tow the cars people refuse to move so the streets could be cleared.

Faerone 3 years, 1 month ago

I wonder when they are piling the snow on the side of the roads if they even think that covering the sidewalks hinders or makes it impossible for people who are disabled or in wheelchairs to get around . Basically those are our only means to get from one place to another. Not all of us have the luxury of a car or can afford unlimited bus passes to get places so a simple trip to the store in the winter can be very dangerous. It is bad enough that sometimes we will get on a sidewalk to go somewhere and the sidewalk suddenly ends and isn't completed,Why start a sidewalk and not finish it? Then to have the ones we do have to be covered in snow and ice while the streets are clear is unacceptable. Where I live south of 23rd street doesn't have sidewalks on most of the main streets forcing me to use my motorized chair in the street. I have been hit by a car once already in my wheelchair as it is, It seems every time I have to go somewhere I risk my life. This needs to be addressed , there are several people in scooters and wheelchairs in my neighborhood and we deserve consideration too.

droppinplates 3 years, 1 month ago

So what would be your recommendation? The city has to clear streets and snow being plowed up and maybe getting on a sidewalk is part of the deal. Whoever owns the property is then responsible for clearing the sidewalk. Just the way it is, it's Kansas, we get snow every year. Everyone has to work together. Don't want to deal with snow, move to Arizona.

Driving your motorized wheelchair on any city street is a bad idea. Again, what is your recommendation? Tax payers are probably not going to fund wheelchair lanes on city streets.

George_Braziller 3 years, 1 month ago

"So what would be your recommendation? The city has to clear streets and snow being plowed up and maybe getting on a sidewalk is part of the deal. Whoever owns the property is then responsible for clearing the sidewalk."

Well for starters when they're plowing the streets they might pay attention what direction they're pushing the snow. I live on a one-way street with no parking on the street (or residences) on the west side. All the people who live on the east side park on the street yet the plows push all the snow against the vehicles so you end up shoveling two or three foot mounds just so you can get out. Get a spot cleared and they come through again push it all back again and you have to start all over.

hurlingchunks 3 years, 1 month ago

Hell I have the Luxury of a car unfortunately it sits 6" from the pavement and I couldn’t move it shovel it or tow it after they plowed me in last year.

puddleglum 3 years, 1 month ago

just what we need...more sticky salt on our roads BEFORE the snow.

I spend a fortune on car washes every winter trying to rinse that crap off my car. why can't we just use sand like other states?

dumb-dumbs

Jonathan Fox 3 years, 1 month ago

Oh I feel so sorry for your precious car that needs to be squeeky clean year round. We all should just give up our ability to get around and the safety of the people who do drive in bad weather anyway so that you can continue to drive your car around in the dead of Kansas winter all nice and clean...

dumb-dumb

Chengdu808 3 years, 1 month ago

I hope they have plans for the Ninth St. hill.

pace 3 years, 1 month ago

I have a plan, avoid the hills, avoid most driving when it is slick.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 1 month ago

This brine. How will it impact landscaping? Kill it maybe?

drake 3 years, 1 month ago

Only the landscaping growing on the driving surface, genius. Stick to copy and paste.

drake 3 years, 1 month ago

Only the landscaping growing on the driving surface, genius. Stick to copy and paste.

parrothead8 3 years, 1 month ago

Until the plows come through and push it into our yards. Stick to posting each thought once.

pace 3 years, 1 month ago

You are plain wrong. Stick to argument, the drivel and denigrating remarks make you small and boring..

independent_rebel 3 years, 1 month ago

Merrill will soon post how this is all the result of failed Republican policies, and more specificially, blame Bush/Cheney.

windjammer 3 years, 1 month ago

Plow the main streets and plow the side streets only after six inches. Waste of time and money to plow the side streets after a inch of snow and then the sun comes up and melts everything. The plows do damage to the fragile streets in east Lawrence as witnessed by all the asphalt in our front yards.

esteshawk 3 years, 1 month ago

Merril and parrothead are right about the effect on landscaping, but the increased road safety will reduce accidents.

Flap Doodle 3 years, 1 month ago

Brine on frozen streets will be less hazardous to the planet than the toxic exhaust of internal combustion lawnmowers. (from a source)

pace 3 years, 1 month ago

Snap boring snap wrong. two for two

Flap Doodle 3 years, 1 month ago

Keeping pickles in brine is a good idea.

Joe Berns 3 years, 1 month ago

..and I'll continue to push the snow back in the street/curb when the snow trucks come by and push it into my driveway. If it came from the street, it goes back to the street. I'd never put the snow from my driveway in the middle of the street where a car could hit it, though.

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