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Sioux Falls Street Dept. Tackles First Big Snow

December 10, 2012, 6:02 PM by Sammi Bjelland

Sioux Falls Street Dept. Tackles First Big Snow

The Sioux Falls Street Department was out in full force, tackling the first significant snowfall of the season this weekend.  While there was no snow alert or many plows on the roads, city officials say they were well equipped to handle what came.

Now that the snow has settled and roads are fairly clear, city street employees can take a breather.

The street department had about 45 people on the roads this weekend for each shift, lasting anywhere from eight to 12 hours each. And with the continuous snow fall and blowing winds, they were busy.

"It takes us about two hours to do the emergency snow routes. And we'll just stay on them. Because it snowed for three days, we were on them almost all the time for the entire weekend," Sioux Falls Street/Utilities Manager Galynn Huber said.

Some people noticed that there was no snow alert issued for this storm. Huber says a snow alert is used when the entire city will be plowed out. He says there just wasn't a need for one this time around.

"Over the three days, we never ended up with enough snow to really justify plowing out the entire city. Normally what I need is somewhere over two inches, all to fall at once. And that just didn't happen," Huber said.

The city primarily used sand with the occasional mix of 10 percent salt for the more dangerous stretches of road and intersections.  But because of the high price of pure salt and liquid calcium chloride, the city only uses these more fast-acting materials for the busiest areas or during snow emergencies.

"The 2/3s of the city streets are made up of residential streets. And so we just can't afford to put down that type of chemical, the salt or liquid, on residential streets," Huber said.

Although it was a long weekend, Huber says he's pleased with how his employees handled their first big storm of the year.

"Everything went really well. For me, it's keeping the equipment on the roads. And I had really good luck keeping all my equipment on the streets this go around," Huber said.

Huber says during a typical snow alert, they will have over 100 people working during each 12-hour shift.  Each driver must have a CDL license to drive the trucks and attend snow school that the street department offers each year.

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