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Public works ready for snow war

The city's sanding trucks hit the streets on Monday afternoon as the snow started blowing, but the total accumulated snow was not enough to start plowing. "There wasn't enough snow to drop the plows," said Director of Public Works Glenn Tompolski.

The city's sanding trucks hit the streets on Monday afternoon as the snow started blowing, but the total accumulated snow was not enough to start plowing.

"There wasn't enough snow to drop the plows," said Director of Public Works Glenn Tompolski. "Ice is more the issue within the first 24 hours … so the sanding trucks are out.

"We are monitoring the situation."

Edmonton's weather forecast shows the potential for anywhere from three to 10 cm of snow on Thursday, with daytime highs in the early to mid teens and overnight lows of -21 C.

While residents have spent the last week getting ready for the weather, the city has been quietly preparing to battle winter for months.

City equipment was serviced over the summer, seasonal workers were put in place Nov. 1 and supplies such as sand and salt have been fully stockpiled since Oct. 15.

"By the time the fall rolls around, the equipment is ready to go," said Tompolski. "We've got proactive programs to manage the season's equipment. Whether it's snowplowing or something else, that equipment is ready to go."

Staff have also finalized their snow clearing maps for the coming year. As new home construction brings new streets into St. Albert, public works must adjust accordingly.

"We have a snow clearing policy that doesn't change, but the maps do get updated," Tompolski said.

That snow clearing policy sets priorities for the city's different roads and within what span of time after snowfall they must be cleared. Accumulation of a minimum two centimetres of snow triggers the deployment of three crews and staff dedicated to snow removal. Two shifts are responsible for plowing, snow removal and ice control on a 24/5 basis (24 hours a day, Monday to Friday).

"That's just for winter operations," said Tompolski. "If we do get snow throughout the night, the trucks can be out and about."

St. Albert Trail and Ray Gibbon Drive are the first priorities, which must be cleared within eight hours of snowfall. Arterial roads are priority two and must be plowed within 12 hours, followed by collector, commercial and rural roads at 24 hours.

Residential roads must wait for the accumulation of a 12 to 15 cm of accumulated snow pack in the driving lanes or 10 cm of snow pack by Feb. 1 before the city will start clearing and removing snow.

For sidewalks and trails, transit terminals, St. Albert Place and the Red Willow Trail system take first priority and must be swept snow-free after one cm of accumulation. Arterial sidewalks and trails, collector sidewalks and trails and bus stops must be plowed within 48 hours after two to five cm of accumulation, while internal trails and connector sidewalks must plowed within 72 hours.

Henday clearing

The city has also met with the Anthony Henday Drive contractor and the City of Edmonton to discuss snow clearing on the new stretch of freeway. While the contractor is responsible for removing snow from the Henday, including the on and off ramps, the three have agreed that where their paths might intersect, they will keep their plows on the ground. Tompolski used St. Albert Trail as an example.

"The contractor would come in, do a turnaround right at McDonalds and they'll sand or plow some of the city's area where the turnaround is," said Tompolski. The city will do the same around 184 Street when its crews turn themselves around.

The city's snow clearing policy is available at www.stalbert.ca/snow-removal.