Wheel Genius: Road crews ready for snow’s arrival

The snow plows are on, the salt-and-sand spreaders equipped and personnel in place.

Now all Tom Orzulak needs is the snow to stick.

Or not.

“If anything happens, we’re already on shifts. Everybody knows what to do,” said Orzulak, the city’s street division manager. “We just have to wait and see.”

As rain turned to snow by late Monday morning, Orzulak’s crews were in place and poised to launch their street-clearing forces should they become necessary.

The division has 16 street-clearing routes in all, with 16 trucks assigned.

Half of Orzulak’s 40-member staff has been on duty since 7:30 a.m., when employees started hooking up plows to some of the trucks and getting other equipment in place to mobilize within 15 minutes of the call to clear. Other staffers will report to work at noon and go until 8 p.m.

“We haven’t had any overtime yet,” Orzulak said.

The city has 2,500 tons of salt-and-sand mixture ready to apply on streets, backed up with 4,000 tons of salt and another 1,000 tons of sand.

The outside temperature was holding at 39 degrees at the public works yard at 11th Street and Haskell Avenue, but Orzulak knows better than to reach any conclusions about the likelihood of precipitation accumulating or not.

“If it starts snowing heavy, it’ll start sticking,” Orzulak said. “Then we’ll have to treat. If get more than 3 inches of snow, obviously we’ll plow.”

His approach: It’s best to be prepared, then react.

“People just need to realize that it’s slick when it snows,” Orzulak said. “I don’t have any high confidence that this is going to be a major deal for us … but it’s wait and see.”