Complete snow removal job will take a month
Be patient – the plows are coming.
WINTERSʼ HAVOC – The snow has created problems outside the city as well. Top: Whitehorse firefighters, aided by the Golden Horn Volunteer Fire Department, rescue the occupant of this vehicle Monday afternoon after it left the Alaska Highway about one kilometre north of the Lewes River Bridge. The highway was closed briefly. Blowing snow conditions may have contributed to the mishap. Star photo by VINCE FEDOROFF Below: this trucksʼ trailer did not make the turn onto Alaska Highway in Watson Lake this morning. Photo by JIMMY SALT
Be patient – the plows are coming.
With the continued snowfall over the past few days, additional city crews are working overtime to plow high-priority roads and compact the snow on sidestreets to make it easier for residents to navigate.
On Monday, city officials issued a reminder to be cautious of snow-clearing equipment as crews continue working on clogged streets.
“Please exercise caution when travelling, and be sure to provide enough space for the snow-clearing equipment at work,” officials said.
“When clearing snow from driveways, please do not move it onto sidewalks or roadways. This is not safe, and creates problems for people trying to move around, particularly those with mobility issues.”
The city also pointed to its snow-clearing policy, outlining its priorities, and noted crews are working all hours of the day to deal with the snow.
As interim city manager Brian Crist explained this morning, the city’s night crew of six people and weekend crew of four employees have been brought in to step up snow-clearing efforts around the clock.
The first roads to be cleared, as outlined in the Snow and Ice Control Policy, are freeways as well as major arterial roads, emergency routes, bus routes and roads with steep grades.
Second priority roads are the remaining arterial roads, emergency routes, bus routes, major industrial areas, the central business district downtown and school zones.
The priority then goes to any remaining roads and, finally, city-owned parking lots and lanes.
As Crist noted though, priorities can change depending on circumstances.
Snow removal will likely take upwards of a month.
However, he said the policy requires the city to compact snow on the sidestreets. If there are roads that can’t be navigated due to the snowfall, the city will send out crews and equipment to compact the snow there first.
“That becomes a priority,” Crist said.
Typically though, once the first two priority roads are dealt with, crews go to neighbourhoods with a higher snowfall and work to clean the sidestreets before travelling on to other neighbourhoods.
Those with less snow accumulation, often in Riverdale, are done last.
“It’ll be an ongoing effort,” Crist said.
The city has been getting a number of phone calls from residents questioning when their streets will be plowed. To Crist’s knowledge, there aren’t any roads which can’t be navigated.
A total of $3.1 million has been budgeted for winter road maintenance in 2013, and it’s expected the city will meet that budget by the end of today, said Valerie Anderson, the manager of financial services.
She noted the city has spent about 85 per cent of its budget so far, and there will still have to be payroll and other expenses factored in by the end of today.
As Crist noted, a fairly mild fall meant there wasn’t a lot spent on snow removal early in the season.
It’s only been in the past week or so that the city has seen such a significant snowfall requiring around-the-clock efforts.
While today marks the end of the year for the city, Anderson pointed out the city will operate under a provisional budget in 2014 until the operating budget is adopted in the new year.
“Snow-clearing will continue tomorrow,” she said.