Citys snow fleet feels storms pain

From Post staff reports

Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead responded yesterday to a number of inquiries he said his office has had about what the City of Lebanon did to prepare for last weekend’s winter blast and what “the City was doing to clear the streets.”

He prefaced his remarks with some humor saying “I wish we could have all spent the recent snow storm bundled up in our homes, drinking hot chocolate and watching our children and grandchildren enjoy their snow sleds. Ahhhh, to be young again. But with age comes responsibility and unfortunately we have to get out of our driveways and face the real world.”

Craighead, in a written statement, explained that the City’s Street Department started spreading salt and a calcium chloride/sand mix on primary routes within the city on Friday morning.

He said the primary routes put most citizens within three to four blocks of a treated street.

“Later, on Friday afternoon, we were able to cover the secondary routes which got several neighborhoods even closer to a treated street. The streets were in good enough condition to get people home safely Friday afternoon. 

“Friday night brought the additional sleet and snow along with the single digit temperatures. Saturday morning came with no sunshine. Salt doesn't work in temperatures below 20 degrees and the calcium chloride/sand mix did what it could. The Street Department continued to add additional salt and sand mix to the roads after attempts to plow were made. Plowing the streets was not very successful due to the frozen compaction of the snow and sleet.

“Sunday the sun came out, temperatures began to rise, the chemical went to work and roads began to slush up. Crews were able to be successful by partially plowing the major routes. On Monday, crews were out early working on major and secondary routes with more success,” Craighead said.

The mayor described the winter storm as “far exceeding our capabilities and resources.

He said over 200 hours of overtime “was used just to make the progress we made” adding “I would like to commend their efforts. Your city employees were on duty and doing their best to ensure our safety.”

According to Craighead, the City has four salt spreaders, three snow plows and a limited amount of salt. He said he understood that in the past the City has had as many as six salt spreaders.

“Our manpower and equipment can easily handle the 1 to 2 inch snows, but not the perfect storm events as last weekend which was a first of its kind for the past ten years,” he explained.

Craighead noted that over the years the City has added more roads to be maintained, using less equipment and manpower.

“This time it bit us in the butt.  If we were to have a snow storm tonight, we would have only one plow and two spreaders to fight the battle. The others are broken down for now. Hopefully they will be road ready before the next storm.

“If we want to raise the bar of service, we will have to consider equipment needs, manpower, and salt supplies. All this will come with a high cost during hard times.  Storms of this caliber are not typical for our area.

“This was a significant winter storm. We will continue to evaluate our actions, our priorities and are open to any suggestions anyone might have,” he said.

The mayor ended his statement saying “Amidst all the inconvenience, I hope you were able to enjoy the wonderment we once felt as those snowflakes began to fall.”