SIOUX FALLS, SD -
There's no snow on the ground in Sioux Falls yet, but city workers are already training on snow plows. That's because the city isn't waiting for the results of a public vote in April before expanding the use of snow gates.
With winter drawing closer, snow is sure to come at any time. That's why Sioux Falls Street Fleet Manager, Galynn Huber has his crews training in the dirt.
"I'm trying to get as many employees behind the wheel before it snows to practice. And then once it snows, get them back out there again. Because even though we're pushing gravel now, it has a little bit different texture than snow does," Huber said.
This year snow gates will be used all over the city, so that means more drivers will have to learn how to use them. Huber hopes this will prepare the drivers for next winter, if the snow gate vote passes in April.
"If the citizens of Sioux Falls want snow gates, I want my guys to know how to run them starting this year already. So that next winter, they feel more comfortable with them when we go citywide with them all," Huber said.
Plows alone are tough to operate, but the snow gates make them even more difficult. Each driver will practice a minimum of 48 hours.
Huber says young men who have played video games in the past, actually do very well with the many controls and hand-eye coordination this job requires.
"Not all driveways come straight out from the garage. Some of them neck down a little bit. And their trying to guess where that's at. Plus watch out for mailboxes, telephone pedestals, fire hydrants, parked cars, cars driving around them. So there's a lot of stress when you first start out," Huber said.
Though the dirt pushing is good practice, Huber says getting out in the real snow will be the best training they can get.
"You know it doesn't take long with 12 hour shifts to start figuring out and get the routine down on how it works," Huber said.
Huber says snow gates will be sent where the drivers who need training are headed that day. So some people may see them more than once, and some may not see them at all.
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