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Sioux Falls Snow Gates Take First Test

December 12, 2010, 11:01 PM by David Brown

Sioux Falls Snow Gates Take First Test
SIOUX FALLS, SD - It's a $12,000 project and thanks to the weekend blizzard, it's being put to use.  Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether oversaw the city's purchase of two snow gates this fall to be used during the winter months.

The devices are supposed to relieve the headaches of homeowners by leaving less snow near driveways and intersections. And Saturday's storm gave cleanup crews the first chance to test them Sunday.

The city of Sioux Falls has designated two areas in the central and eastern parts of town to test the new snow gates. Sunday, they hit the ground for the first time.

"These are new to us," Sioux Falls street utilities manager Galynn Huber said. "So, it'll be interesting to see, for all of us, how they react this first time going through the street. And getting my guys used to going through and putting the gate down and with the amount of snow, we have to feel it a little bit."

Critics claim the snow gates are less effective when more than three inches of snow falls, but Huber says the weekend blizzard provided ideal conditions for the first run-through.

"This is a pretty big snowstorm," Huber said. "it's going to be a nice test for them to see how they perform. I've talked to my counterparts in Minot and Bismarck, North Dakota and they have run snow gates at six inches, so we'll see how this does."

The city will be looking at more than just how much snow the gates push. Computers on board the plows will measure travel times and other information to see if this first-run was a success.

"We're approaching this in the sense that we've got a lot of data to collect," Sioux Falls public works director Mark Cotter said. "We have a lot of pictures to take because there will be a series of things we look at to see how they performed, did they do what they were expected to do and how did they affect our operation."

The city's using regular plows on streets near the two snow-gate test zones so it can do a comparison study later on.

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