In order to plow and sand the approximately 285 lane miles of roadway, 22 +/- miles of sidewalks, parking lots, school yards and the airport, winter snow removal assignments are divided among thirteen individual routes. Snow removal from sidewalks is normally performed either during or immediately following a storm, as conditions permit. Factoring in dead-end streets, numerous intersections, traffic volumes, etc., the time to plow the average route during periods of good visibility is three to four hours. During periods of heavy or wet snow it can take much longer. Other conditions such as lines down, accidents, equipment breakdowns, illnesses or injury of an employee or other family emergency must be factored into the length of time it may take, as routes become expanded to compensate for manpower or equipment shortages.
When a Snow Storm Begins – The Public Works Department does not generally have a direct contact number before 8:00 am or after 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Therefore, residents are urged to contact the Waterville Police Department (680-4700) to report any problems during periods outside our normal business hours. The Police dispatcher will notify our on-call supervisor. Shortly before or as precipitation begins moving into our area, the main arteries, connector roads, intersections and hills are treated with a sand and salt mixture by our four primary sander units. This helps to prevent snow from bonding to the pavement.
During the Storm – When nominal accumulations begin to occur, the rest of our crew is called in to begin plowing their assigned routes. Plowing and sanding operations continue until the snow stops. At all times during and after a storm, priority is given to keeping the best possible travel conditions on all City streets. Because of increased costs for winter materials, applications of sand and salt will likely be limited to an initial treatment at the beginning of a storm and immediately following the conclusion of the storm. Primary arteries and major intersections may receive more numerous treatments, as conditions and situations require. Sleet and freezing rain events will obviously require more aggressive surface treatment applications. To better facilitate safe traffic flow during slippery road conditions, certain traffic light controlled intersections may be set to flash. Generally, this will occur on Kennedy Memorial Drive from the intersection of West River Road westward to I-95. Other intersections throughout the City may periodically be set to flash, as conditions require. During overnight storms, the Public Works Department must monitor weather conditions and forecasts. If an overnight system is likely to end before 4:00 AM, it is probable that the City’s schools will be in session. Our Department must make adjustments in street clearing operations to allow for our crews to plow and sand school parking lots. Generally, this takes about 2 hours. Afterwards, final street clean-up operations are resumed.
When the Storm is Complete – When the snow ends, all routes are plowed again and, where possible, snow banks are pushed back to make room for future storms. All streets and parking lots are then sanded, where needed. It takes several more hours for the labor crew to clear the more than twenty-two miles of sidewalks that are normally cleared.