Plow drivers were still racking up miles, burning fuel, dropping sand or salt and putting plow trucks to the test two days after the big snow event on Sunday. From my observations the plows likely started at around 7:00 am Sunday morning because the first truck that I saw went along 227th Ave NE (old Co. Rd. 26) at 8:00 am. The last truck I noted went by 16 hours later at 12:30 am Monday morning. If three trucks were each out for 16 hours it was quite a day of plowing I would say – and the drivers do a decent job usually.
I didn’t pay much attention to the plowing operations on Monday, but I did see a truck go by around noon, so I imagine the drivers were out at least part of the day.
On Tuesday I took more notice of the snow removal operations because I was beginning to wonder what this snow fall was actually costing taxpayers. The following is what I observed along 227th Ave. NE.
In the EAST BOUND direction:
7:50 am – truck plowing
2:05 pm - truck plowing and dropping salt or sand
2:22 pm - truck plowing and dropping salt or sand
In the WEST BOUND direction:
8:00 am – truck plowing
12:30 pm – truck plowing
2:17 pm - truck plowing and dropping salt or sand
2:22 pm - truck dropping salt or sand
Now, don’t get me wrong! I like the roads to be plowed. What I can’t figure out is why one truck would plow and drop salt, and then 17 minutes later a second truck would come by and do the thing on the same area. Maybe its just me, but that type of operation is unnecessary and is a wasteful use of wages, fuel consumption, salt usage, and vehicle wear and tear.
The same scenario on the WB lane…..two trucks, 5 minutes apart, laying down salt on the same lane. It’s bad enough if trucks plow the same road over and over throughout the day - but if that kind of duplication is taking place throughout the township every time it snows then it’s likely that there is some serious mis-management taking place.
Another thought is that – if a road has to be plowed throughout the day multiple times and the road doesn’t look any different then something is terribly wrong with that picture.
As a tax payer looking out for other tax payers who “write the checks” and not “cash the checks” I have the following questions for the Road and Bridge Supervisor?
1. What roles do the Road and Bridge Supervisor and Road Foreman play in the supervision, operations, or inspection of the snow plowing crew?
2. Are accurate and honest records being keeping that tally the total wage costs, fuel costs, salt costs, and miles driven for each snow event?
3. What maintenance work or tasks go undone while plowing is taking place?
4. How are trucks coordinated to make sure there is no duplication, tripling or quadrupling of work?
On sunday morning around 9am on December 9th I walked to the town hall to purchase a Sunday paper. It was during our first major snow event of the season. There was about six inches of medium weight snow on the residential side road that I was on, it was still snowing, and the forecast was for more snow throughout the day.
When I arrived at the Linwood town hall I noticed that the town’s 1 ton dump truck was being used to plow the town hall parking lot (and the roads to the adjacent park and salt shed). I thought it was unusual that the town hall parking lot needed to be plowed on a Sunday and in particular – before other roads in the township. With questions filling my head and the thought that I might be witnessing unnecessary and wasteful spending I called the Honorable Phil Osterhus, the Linwood Township Road and Bridge Supervisor. I hated calling him on a Sunday but decided to anyway. Mr. Osterhus answered the phone, was quite pleasant, and didn’t shy away from engaging in conversation and answering my questions.
I asked Mr. Osterhus why it was necessary to plow the town hall parking lot on a Sunday, and before the residential roads were plowed. Mr. Osterhus asked me if I had heard the weather forecast - and then explained that it would be getting cold the next day and that the plowing was being done so that ice wouldn’t form after colder temperatures arrived. Mr. Osterhus also explained that the gravel residential side roads couldn’t be plowed because rock from the roads would end up in the ditches or onto people’s property. I asked Mr. Osterhus about the costs of plowing the town hall and he explained that the cost was $16 an hour for the part-time driver and did not include any overtime. It was my understanding that the two full-time maintenance workers were out plowing with the two bigger at that time also.
I suggested that it would make more sense (and would save tax dollars) to work on the public roads first and at the end of the day finish up with the town hall (and fire hall). Doing that would eliminate the need to hire an extra driver to plow the town hall in addition to the other drivers on the main roads. It would also eliminate needlessly plowing the town hall area over and over throughout the day. The township’s own snow removal policy states that plowing will take place after snow has stopped. So, with all said, in my opinion (and in this instance at least) plowing on a Sunday with fewer folks on the roads could have been done with less personnel, less equipment wear and tear and less fuel costs. I believe that use of tax dollars should always be used with the focus on efficiency and indisputable need……but, that’s just me.