SNOW AND ICE CONTROL
Keeping the public safe in winter conditions is a primary focus if not the most important function of the Highway Department.
The Department’s ‘Snowhow’ has been an evolution of materials, process and timing over the past 3-4 years. Current practice is to ‘Pretreat’ municipal roads. Adopting a ‘first flake’ policy, the Foreman calls out the Highway Crew to apply a ‘wetted salt’ to main roadways and hills, and in certain conditions, local and flat roadways.
Rock salt (sodium chloride) is the principal chemical used in treating Swansea’s roads. Added to the rock salt by spraying and mixing with a loader bucket is a liquid accelerator consisting of magnesium chloride and molasses. This additive brings down the effective melting temperature for the combined material to something in the low teens or even single digits. It also creates an interface with the road surface that allows subsequent snow to be plowed off the roadways more readily and completely generally eliminating the formation of ‘ice or snow pack’ on the road surfaces.
Once a snow depth of 2 – 3 inches is reached during a storm event, plowing contractors are called out to supplement the town’s 10 plowing vehicles to clear the snow from roadway surfaces. As the triggering of plowing contractors starts the clock on paying out $2,000.00 per hour for their services, the timing of this function is tightly controlled by the Highway Director and Foreman.
The timing and choice of tools in the snow fighting arsenal is dependent upon numerous factors that are variable from storm to storm: will it be a wet or dry snow; how long will the storm last; how does the timing of snowfall relate to school opening or closing; how does it relate to commuting hours; is the storm on a weekend or weekday; is it a daytime or night-time storm; what is the air temperature before and after the event; will there be strong winds with the potential of downed trees; what is the roadway temperature; and are there truck and equipment breakdowns during or before the event.
Following plowing of all streets and emergency service facilities (Police, Ambulance and Fire Stations), a post storm treatment is often necessary. It may be of the mains and hills, or include flat streets, or may be omitted entirely. Before opening of municipal facilities (Town Hall, COA, Annex, etc), parking lots need to be plowed and treated.
All trucks handling the treatment mixture must be thoroughly washed to keep them from corroding. Depending upon outdoor temperatures and the length of the storm event, washing may be done at the end of the storm or as much as 3-4 days later. As there is no facility for these trucks to ‘drip dry,’ washing can only take place if the temperature is above freezing.
The Highway trucks, loader and backhoe are all stored outdoors due to the lack of a Highway Storage Building.
If tree limbs are lying on electric wires, you should call the Electric Company for assistance. The telephone number is 800-465-1212