Bringing Public Works Home to CH

Bringing Public Works Home to CH
Posted on 08/31/2016

It’s been about 6 months since Cottonwood Heights City Council authorized the public works transition but a lot has happened in that time. Not only will the department be taking over snow plowing in the winter but it will be responsible for patching and repairing streets, cleaning and maintaining the storm drain system, and keeping trees and vegetation throughout the city owned property looking good.

Taking over this wide variety of responsibilities is no easy task so the responsibilities have been divided up into a variety of subjects. To get an idea of what has to happen before the first snowfall we offer you a look under the hood of the new Cottonwood Heights Public Works Department.

 Even as the City Council was making the final decision on whether 2016 was the right time to make the leap to having public works fully supported by city employees, staff was working with companies to determine if snow plow trucks could be ready in time to plow snow by fall.

Learning from the experience of other agencies in the Salt Lake Valley and the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), Cottonwood Heights used a procurement process authorized by the State to make SOME orders quickly and efficiently. Most of the equipment is exactly the same as what UDOT uses on their trucks and has been proven and improved over years of experience.

The city will have 16 trucks capable of plowing snow where Salt Lake County used 12-13 trucks when they did the work.

The city is also renting four loaders with plow blades during the winter months to improve snow removal in cul-de-sacs and snow storage. These tractors are able to make tight turns and push snow much higher than trucks. Their limber maneuverability and 4-wheel drive capability will be an asset in tight places.

Additionally, the city has also purchased a street sweeper and is pursuing equipment to patch potholes and asphalt damage and a crack seal machine for road maintenance. These maintenance tasks are critical to extending the life of our roads.

Cottonwood Heights also purchased land from UDOT for a public works yard where equipment and materials will be stored and maintained. The new yard is located at 3000 East and 6579 South. 

All the trucks in the world will be useless without good people to operate them. This is why the city is proud to have Matt Shipp and Danny Martinez at the helm. Matt Shipp is a licensed engineer with years of experience in public works and snow removal. Danny Martinez has been plowing snow in Cottonwood Heights for three decades. Danny was hired as the Public Works Superintendent to oversee the same type of projects that he managed as a county streets supervisor for 18 years.

Our department of 4 full-time employees will grow to 12 by this fall and the city will also hire four seasonal employees and about a dozen people willing to respond when plowing operations are needed.

With 18 years as the supervisor for the east bench, Martinez knows what works and doesn’t work with snow removal. Putting a solid plan together and following it will be key. Cottonwood Heights has given Martinez some added tools to work with. Not only will there be more equipment than when the County plowed, but we are coordinating with UDOT for weather data and purchasing ice melting products with enhanced performance.

Each snow removal route will be designed with the right size equipment and priority streets to account for school routes and primary traffic routes. Cul-de-sacs will be opened up as other streets are plowed and snow storage locations will be identified on the maps in each truck.

The city is installing GPS units in trucks to monitor progress and radios to improve communication between supervisors and truck-to-truck. Following a plan and sticking to it will be a key part of the plans success. Drivers will address complaints and snow storage efforts after the routes are open. It will be a work in progress as data is used to resolve challenges but knowing the routes and following them will maintain efficiency and consistency.

Crews will evaluate each storm and discuss ways that the plan can be improved. Making adjustments and looking for better outcomes will be a constant effort.

Community Partnership-The city realizes that true success can’t come without citizen involvement. Staff will be reaching out to neighborhoods in the next few months to ensure that citizens and drivers know the plan.

The ultimate goal is to provide you with better service than you have had in the past. Having city employees running the department will allow them to focus on the needs of the city.

We appreciate your support and patience as we fine-tune our service. We will put all our effort into earning your trust that we have made the right decision.