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What is your opinion of the city’s snow removal efforts?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on December 10, 2005

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Photo of Scott Starrett

“I’m usually pretty happy with Lawrence’s city services, but it seems like they may have waited too long. It didn’t seem like there was much sand or salt anywhere.”

Photo of Toland Hippe

“It just depends where you are in town. The neighborhoods don’t get cleared nearly fast enough. Everywhere else is hit or miss.”

Photo of Armon Pollack

“They’re on par with most other cities, but in a city with so many hills, they need to plow a lot sooner.”

Photo of Janelle Amick

“I don’t think they’re doing a very good job so far. It’s been too slow, for me at least.”

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Comments

even_money 8 years, 4 months ago

enoch, just another couple thoughts about road construction. Many of the roads here in town are paved over the original road substrates dating back to the 19/c. Although the original roads were sufficient for their day, they were never built for the type of wear and tear K-10 gets, for instance. And the K-10 road surface is relatively new.

The 'heritage' roads, although originally placed over 'hardcore' (brick dust/gravel dust/sand--compacted), there isn't a lick of steel to be found in 'em (as you would find in the K-10 road surface). Combine that with the fact that the preponderence of our sub-soil is most often a 'silty clay / loam' which is somewhat unreliable for solid foundations as the stuff moves around a lot (it shrinks/swells depending on moisture content and temperature).

The K-10 road surface is designed to compensate for that in a number of ways. The substrate has been engineered, steel rebar placed and high-test concrete placed for the finished road surface.

Whereas many city streets evolved from heritage materials and are simply resurfaced with asphalt, a fairly reliable recipe for the incidence of potholes.

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Rick Aldrich 8 years, 4 months ago

what snow removal ?????????????????????????????????

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bearded_gnome 8 years, 4 months ago

katebleu: your street in east lawrence...per chance?

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DGL 8 years, 4 months ago

All those people who call it adequate: Are you thinking of prior years or are you just high? My next question: did you see a single plow truck out this year? KU has their plow trucks and they did an excellent job...the city dropped the ball big time.

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Ceallach 8 years, 4 months ago

I think it has been adequate.

What has turned so many of you guys into wimps? I do not have a new car, I work at KU, and I have been able to go all over town before, during, and after the snow. I do have decent tires, front wheel drive and am willing of changing routes to get around the more challenging streets. I will admit I have not navigated roundabouts this last week, but I do have to fight it out with a couple of roustabouts on my way to work each day. I think it's unrealistic to expect side streets to be cleared rapidly when we have 8 inches of snow and such frigid temps.

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even_money 8 years, 4 months ago

Would you like that 'wrapped' or do you care to eat it here?

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Smarmy_Schoolmarm 8 years, 4 months ago

I haven't been checking in regularly at all for the last few months. After going through the last few days' posts it's good to see that nothing has changed. What a bunch of fruitcakes! Nice to see all the old names and some new ones.

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even_money 8 years, 4 months ago

enochville, I'm not a civil engineer. But I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night :)

My street is paved with concrete. It has cracks but no potholes. Most streets in town are paved with asphalt. Asphalt streets get potholes.

You'll notice the city went the extra nine yards with the 19th and Barker roundie as the adjacent aprons and paving are concrete. Once the concrete ends, the potholes begin. Didn't that thing cost a cool mil to build?

Perhaps we could get the arts commission to commemorate Lawrence potholes by placing fancy statues on various roundabouts here in town?

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l_eustacy 8 years, 4 months ago

Nudist, I think you have a good start, but I think your plan doesn't go far enough. Snow is just one of the problems facing us. I think we can solve many more problems if we get the right resources. Guns are not the answer.

We need nuclear weapons. Heck, if Iran can try to build thier own weapons, we Kansans should too. We could hold Missouri and Arkansas hostage and make them clear our streets.

"It won't be over until we decide it is. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Heck no. Who's with me?"

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nudist 8 years, 4 months ago

If we want the snow clearing to improve, we should be involved in making it a reality. If we work together we can all contribute. Here's a possible plan:

Everyone bring their guns.

Meet at the roundabouts.

Board the snowplows and force the drivers to drive faster.

scrape the speedbumps off the street

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enochville 8 years, 4 months ago

correction: "that our politicians just have been unwilling to pursue".

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enochville 8 years, 4 months ago

GreenEyedBlues: I think your right. But, the point I am getting at is that it is possible to engineer roads in our climate that can save the city money on maintaintence and make the citizens happy by not having bumps and potholes everywhere. I am sure that it is more expensive to build better roads, but I wonder if it would be cheaper over the long run, by not having to repave it as often or repair it as often. Futhermore, I noticed that the snow did not seem to collect as much on K-10, but blew across it. That may have been due to several factors, but I wonder if the thickness of the pavement makes a difference on how well snow sticks to the surface. If it does make a difference, the city would save money on plowing as well.

I am just in search of the facts. Even if it is cheaper overall to build better roads, I know a lot of people who are more willing to pay more over time, than pay a smaller amount overall at once. I think cities can get loans so that they can finance the cost overtime. I don't know a lot about these things, I just what to know if there is a better way that are politicians just have been unwilling to pursue.

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Kathleen Christian 8 years, 4 months ago

Sad!! In the 8 years I've lived on my street it has only been plowed once. Most side streets which are traveled frequently are never plowed. They wait too long to get started. The way they plowed the downtown area streets amazed and puzzled me - seemed a little disorganized they way they were going about it. I think Lawrence could do better.

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GreenEyedBlues 8 years, 4 months ago

Isn't K-10 maintained by the STATE and not the CITY of Lawrence? Just a thought.

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enochville 8 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for all the explanations about roads, but most of those explanations don't explain why K-10 outside of Lawrence is so much better than 23rd. They both share the same climate.

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even_money 8 years, 4 months ago

enochville, near as I can 'xplain, colder climates are actually easier to engineer roads for. They don't have the constant freeze-thaw cycles we have here in this latitude.

F'rinstance, I think it's something like 160 days per year in our climate where the temp rises above freezing during the day and dips below freezing at night. That wreaks havoc on any road patches, construction joints, any flat surface that water can penetrate.

The water gets into the substrate, expands when it freezes, and contracts during the daytime when everyone is walloping two-ton vehicles over the road surface.

If the road materials could be made impervious to water we wouldn't have this problem. Trouble is, we just haven't found that perfect material yet.

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killjoy 8 years, 4 months ago

The snow removal has been good, except for the speed bumps and the roundabouts. I wonder who the fruitcake is that designed them is?

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Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

Public Works Director Chuck Soules estimated he could begin to get service times moving back toward the 2000 levels by adding three dump trucks and three employees to the department's street division. That would cost the city about $320,000 in new equipment and about $150,000 a year in wages and benefits, he said."

We do not have frequent enough snow fall to justify that type of spending.

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Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 8 years, 4 months ago

I grew up in Cleveland and the streets were cleared immediately and continually there. Convoys of snow plow and salt trucks covered every neighborhood as soon as the snow started coming down. When I moved to Kansas City, I absolutely could NOT believe that zero effort was made to clear the streets; even the major streets like Main or Braodway. Three days after a storm and cars were STILL driving over packed snow and ice! Lawrence does a so-so job, but I understand that snow removal may not be a big part of the city's budget.

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Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

Enochville has a legit question. I spent 3 winters in a town 50 miles from the canadian border that didn't seem to have the pothole situation. Also no one expected the streets to be perfectly clear and traffic moved slower until the temp moved above freezing.

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The_Original_Bob 8 years, 4 months ago

Enochville - It is my understanding that the other part of pothole formation is rapid and wide temp fluctuations which we have. In the colder climates it's just pretty much cold but here it wouldn't be out of the question for it to be in the 60s next week and then back to 0 the week after.

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Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

Considering the new growth that so many love I believe the city is doing as well as can be expected. I am not ready for a tax increase directed at snow removal. Chuck is doing a fine job.

Snow removal, pothole repair and traffic calming I believe have separate budgets. Of course snow plowing will contribute to pot holes as does the salt. It's an ongoing situation that has not changed in decades. After winter remember there is a hotline to report potholes to which the city will respond.

Growth creates more of everything. Once you get west of Tenn the hills are ruling. Those new westside neighborhoods are full of hills whereas downtown is flat. It is my guess that snow removal at this point in time needs to be concentrated to the west cuz so many of those newer neighborhoods have hills like 9th,10th,11th,13th,14th and 15th going into KU. I came across one hilly 3 way intersection in new NW Lawrence that would present a challenge to most any 4 wheel drive however a caterpillar might make it.

New neighborhoods have produced a real snow removal challenge with 8'' snows and sub zero temps. We on flatland eastside should be thankful cuz we can still walk to town or catch the bus.

Cool little sports cars are not snow mobiles. In this case walking,riding a bus, staying home or going sledding at KU might work better.

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WriterGirl 8 years, 4 months ago

I still haven't seen a plow / salt truck come down my street. Maybe, they all got stuck in the roundabouts.

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Sigmund 8 years, 4 months ago

Forget snow removal, when is the City of Lawrence going to protect us from the roving gangs of the religious right beating up liberals!

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enochville 8 years, 4 months ago

I have a question for the engineers out there. Does Lawrence build its roads differently, or not as thick as other places with colder climates? I have lived in eastern Canada, Maine, and Utah, and none of those places had the problems with potholes Lawrence does. As far as I know they all used salt and sand and plowed just like here. One possibility would be that they filled their potholes faster. Maybe, but that can't be all the answer because, when the roads were not covered with snow, those places had fewer patches than here.

K-10 is a great road once you leave Lawrence. What is the difference? I assume that it is built deeper. Those roads may cost us more upfront, but would probably save money in the long run and everyone would appreciate the fewer number of potholes.

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fellowlucky 8 years, 4 months ago

I grew up in Topeka, before I moved here I thought snow removal was a simple task but apparently not because it never gets done. The top layer is removed and the rest is left to melt. Just wait, as soon as the snow melts away so does the filler they use to fix all the potholes. Here's some advice for the city commision...STOP BUILDING ROUNDABOUTS AND SPEND THE MONEY WHERE IT'S NEEDED.

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offtotheright 8 years, 4 months ago

I think they've done a crappy job!

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lunacydetector 8 years, 4 months ago

perhaps lawrence should stop putting in roundabouts - i hit the curb twice going through roundabouts during the storm - and concentrate some money on snow removal.

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trinity 8 years, 4 months ago

seems like sometimes the driving situation is made worse by plowing. this was a whopper of a snow storm, ya know. i think those who beeyotch the loudest are those who're totally unprepared amatuers.

and i don't even live in lawrence! :)

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even_money 8 years, 4 months ago

Yesterday I had to drive up the dreaded 11th St. hill to JRP. If I hadn't had my 'mean wheels' on the car and 180 pounds of tube sand in the trunk, my goose would have been cooked. (interesting expression, no?)

I know this is mean and all, but I saw this really fancy expensive sports car having a helluva time just trying to get out of a parallel parking space on Vermont St. yesterday. It had traffic backed up as the driver attempted to use the 'back-and-forth' maneuver to free the car from the snow.

What's up with that? It's December in Kansas, folks. You owe it to yourselves and everyone else to winterize that car and be prepared for these snow days.

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enochville 8 years, 4 months ago

Actually, I think all the major hilly roads should be plowed first. Examples include Kasold from Clinton Prkwy to 15th; 15th from Kasold to Iowa; 9th from Iowa to Michigan; 19th from Ousdahl to Iowa; 14th from Tennessee to Campus; etc.

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enochville 8 years, 4 months ago

For the most part I felt the speed and quality of the plowing was good enough. However, many people, including myself had some difficulty driving up the hill east of campus to find parking spaces on the side streets. I think those steep roads around campus and the main thoroughfares should be first to be plowed.

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even_money 8 years, 4 months ago

The city sent a blade down my street first thing. With the sun and all, you can actually see much of the pavement now.

Unfortunately, I use the alley and park out back so for me it is still tobogganland. Wheee!

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