By Bryce Haderlie, Assistant City Manager
In March, the city council made a decision that changed the course of snow removal in Cottonwood Heights. The council determined that the best way to provide the highest level of service was to bring the public works department in-house. Over the summer, the city has purchased 16 trucks and will lease four loaders through the winter to tackle the project. Twelve full-time and four seasonal employees are training daily on the equipment and driving the routes to ensure that they are ready to go when the snow flies.
Public Works Superintendent Danny Martinez is bringing his 18 years of Salt Lake County experience supervising snow removal (and street maintenance) in Cottonwood Heights and the east bench and pouring it into the plan.
“We’ve developed smaller routes for greater efficiency; we have brand new top-of-the-line trucks, and we have handpicked staff that are ready and willing to go,” Danny says.
Martinez and Public Works Director Matt Shipp explain that having the citizens as part of the team is another essential part of the puzzle.
“Keeping parked cars off the roads during the storm, trimming trees over the road, and keeping driveway snow out of the street are just a few things that residents can do to help us perform our job,” Matt explains.
Just a few cars parked on the street can stop a plow with a 12 foot wide blade from passing by. Police may be forced to ticket or tow cars that slow the progress of the crews. Martinez says staying on the planned route in each of the 10 areas (while four 10-wheel trucks focus on the arterial roads) will be critical for success. “Jumping from street to street and responding to special citizen requests confuses the plan.” He went on to share, “This is a team effort and we hope citizens will help us so that we can get through the area quickly and efficiently.”
There are several factors that will contribute to a successful process. All trucks have GPS tracking and two-way radios to stay in touch with the superintendent. High-performance salt that is designed to melt snow and ice at lower temperatures will be used when necessary. Trucks are equipped with brine tanks to pretreat roads and pre-wet the salt. Using coordinated weather and temperature monitoring with UDOT and the state, loaders will be used that can move and pile snow more efficiently in tight areas. Enhanced routes and call-out schedules will be utilized for crews. Additionally, new trucks that meet or exceed UDOT and Salt Lake County specifications are ready to go.
Citizens can help by:
-Keeping parked cars off the street during a storm and 24 hours after it ends
-Keeping garbage cans near the curb
-Keeping driveway and sidewalk snow out of the road
-Trimming tree branches so they don’t damage the trucks
-Notifying the city of issues by calling 801-944-7071
-Allowing staff to stick to the plan
City Manager John Park summed it up when he said, “This is an exciting time for Cottonwood Heights. Much like forming the police department in 2008, bringing public works home allows us to set a new standard of performance for our citizens. We’ve been preparing for this all summer and we are ready to go to work.”