Roads Superintendent at Public Works Doug Halldorson stands in front of 12,000 metric tonnes of sand the City uses to maintain roads during the winter in Red Deer. Robin Grant/Red Deer Express

Red Deer Public Works talks snow removal

City starts out winter season with 12,000 tonnes of sand

The City of Red Deer road work crews maintain more than 600 kilometres of roadways during the winter.

To show how they operate, Public Works held a behind-the-scenes look at the winter maintenance operations at Civic Yards Sand Tent Thursday afternoon.

Roads Superintendent at Public Works Doug Halldorson talked about the different ways the City maintains routes and the tools the crews have at their disposal.

To provide traction on roads in the winter, crews use brine, road guard and salt, he said. Last year, crews used about 7,000 tonnes of sand but the amount depends on the winter.

At the beginning of the season, they start with 12,000 metric tonnes, which sits in a large white tent in the Civic Yards.

Temperatures determine what substance they use.

For example, at minus seven Celsius salt brine is used. At minus 12 Celsius or warmer salt brine is used to pre-wet the sand and then sand is used for added traction control.

At minus 12 Celsius or lower, crews use road guard to pre-wet the sand as salt is not effective below minus 18.

“At colder temperatures, salt is less effective, so it’s all temperature dependent,” he explained.

“We have the plow trucks, the sand, salt and liquids so we try to minimize the salt that we do use and still provide safe and accessible roads,” he said.

Public Works uses different methods to deal with cold winter conditions, according to the City of Red Deer website.

Before a storm, the goal is to stop ice before it forms. During a storm, crews monitor and respond to poor conditions. These reports can come in from residents letting them know what areas in the City need attention.

After a storm, the goal is to ensure city streets are safe and driveable. The City’s Snow and Ice program uses a colour-coded route system to decide which roads take priority.

For example, hills, bridges and hospital routes take priority, Halldorson said. These routes are plowed within eight hours of five centimetres of snow accumulating. Major arterial roads are second on the priority list and are plowed within 72 hours of eight centimetres of snow accumulating.

Downtown roads are third on the list of priorities for crews. These roads are plowed within four days of 10 centimetres of snow.

In residential areas, main neighbourhood streets are plowed after 10 centimetres of snow.

For more information about road maintenance in the winter, see the City of Red Deer’s site.

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