SNOW & ICE PROGRAM KEEPS SASKATOON MOVING AROUND
Clearing, sanding, salting and removal of snow this year has been successful at keeping City roads in good winter driving condition this season. The City’s winter operations are running continuously and methods are adjusted as required in response to weather conditions. For example, the extended extreme cold period required more frequent sanding and maintenance to address the icy conditions, so extra sanding crews are deployed on these days.
So far this winter, Saskatoon has experienced six snow events, with an expected three more months of winter left to go. A snow event is defined as where a minimum of 5 centimetres of snowfall. In each of these events, crews were out sanding and clearing during the snow event. Once the snow fall ended, crews had completed the priority street system in advance of the 72-hour goal.
“As a result of this snow clearing, City crews have hauled 2,700 tandem-axle loads of snow to the City’s snow storage sites,” Director of Public Works, Pat Hyde says. “This is done to remove the snow windrows in the downtown core, the Business Improvement Districts and to provide storage room along the priority routes for the next snow events.”
Over the next few weeks more snow windrows will be removed along the priority street network to provide for sufficient storage space.
The City listens to what residents are asking for and continues to make improvements to its budgeting and operations. So far this winter, additional successes and new processes include:
The City has implemented an improved process for snow storage and removal along Circle Drive. Crews will remove as much of the snow as possible during snow clearing along the guard rails and protective barriers. Then crews will return and remove any remaining snow within 48 hours, once clearing is completed on Circle Drive. The first priority is Circle Drive South, Circle Drive North, and Senator Sid Buckwold Bridges, followed by the high speed overpasses along Circle Drive. The City is working this week to complete the removal of snow ridges that have collected along the protective barriers and guard rails. Once the high priority roadways are complete, the City will immediately remove all snow ridges along the remaining guard rails and protective barriers on Circle Drive.
A new ‘rolling work zone’ snow removal process was developed and implemented. The ‘rolling work zone’ allows for this work to be completed while minimizing traffic disruption and ensuring the safety of the crews and public while the operations are performed.
Business Improvement Districts
The Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) of the Downtown Partnership, Broadway, Riversdale and Central Avenue have had an improved snow clearing process applied where snow will be cleared from curb to curb during the priority street clearing during and following a snow event. This will provide for an improved cleared area for parking along the curb lanes and streets that are cleared of snow to improve traffic flow. The BIDs will then have the snow windrows loaded out following the clearing within the following few days after clearing.
NEW for this year is the use of contractor forces to perform snow clearing and removal with the following streetscape zones of the downtown core: 2nd Avenue (between 23rd Street and 19th Street) and 21st Street (from 1st Avenue to Spadina Crescent).
Use of Contractors
Contractors are being engaged earlier during a snow event to ensure that the priority street network is maintained and passable during a snow event. It can also mean it can be cleared more quickly once the snowfall has ceased. This leads to an improved traffic flow and provides for safer driving conditions for drivers.
As these are heavy traffic areas and are significant to the overall commerce of the city and its residents, additional snow clearing within the industrial areas has also been improved and expanded this year. For those streets within these areas that are not already receiving snow clearing as part of the priority street network additional clearing is being performed once the priority streets are completed. This is improving traffic flow, improving access to these areas and preventing and/or minimizing the potential for rutting. This approach will help avoid rutting within these zones, which can be very significant otherwise.
Currently snow removal has been initiated for all elementary school zones with the use of contract forces. The clear out area of the school zones is being expanded to allow for an increased area for drop off/pick up zones, ease traffic congestion and improve the safety for children within these areas. Schools located in the southwest, northeast and north side of the city are complete and schools in the northwest and southeast will be completed within one week.
Sidewalks & Pathways
Changes for City crews has allowed for workers to be available 7 days/week for clearing the pathways and sidewalks that the city is responsible for snow clearing. Previous to this winter sidewalk crews were not staffed over the weekends. This allows for a much faster and efficient clearing process and improves the opportunities of those who utilize the pathways and sidewalks.
City Wide Clearing & Ruts
With warm weather forecasted over the next several days, the City is anticipating rutting to begin on those streets not on the priority street network. Specifically, Public Works is watching those areas where there is limited room for traffic flow, where the potential for ruts is more severe. The current average snow pack on streets is approximately 10 centimetres (4 inches). In extreme cold, the snow contracts, then when temperatures rise again, the snow will “puff up” or expand and soften. It is during such conditions when roadways are more susceptible to the potential for ruts developing or for existing ruts to expand.
To avoid an extreme rutting situation, as was experienced last year, funding through the new dedicated road levy provides for additional snow clearing. Through this, a city-wide snow clearing is being planned for and scheduled to start the week of January 20 on all city streets, which include residential and industrial streets, that are not regularly cleared as part of the priority street snow clearing system. Before the city wide clearing begins residents may report a severely rutted street online at www.saskatoon.ca/go/snow or to the customer service call centre at 306-975-2476. More information about the city-wide snow clearing program will be provided over the next week.
City crews are out addressing high-risk and trouble areas 24/7, as well as monitoring road conditions and sanding/salting as required. With warmer temperatures expected, sanding efforts will be more effective to reduce icy conditions. The City is pleased with its snow maintenance program and proud to serve Saskatoon residents, making it safe for drivers to move around the city. For more information about the City’s Snow & Ice program, visit www.saskatoon.ca/go/snow.
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