SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Through January 30, Sioux Falls had 43.3 inches of snow in the 2022-23 winter season. 

That’s the fourth-most in history, according to Dustin Hansen, Sioux Falls’ Street Operations Manager who gave a 26-slide presentation on Sioux Falls snow removal 101. The most snow Sioux Falls has experienced is 62.6 inches in the winter of 1968-69. 

Hansen told city councilors the winter street budget is $10 million and currently $5.1 million has been used. He said he was confident the city could make it through the rest of this winter, but had concerns about November and December. 

There’s normally 51 full-time operators in the city street division along with 20-25 seasonal operators. The city has 40 motor graders to push snow and has contracts for 11 motor graders with private companies. That’s down from 26 contracts with private companies four years ago. 

“There’s more private work that’s more consistent,” Hansen said. “Motor graders are getting more expensive. There’s a lot of contractors that have motor graders, but they don’t want to use it to push snow. It’s just not worth it.” 

Hansen said the lack of more contracted motor graders has slowed the process down some, but city officials are in early discussions to possibly raise the hourly rates or what it would take to get more contracted motor graders to push snow. 

Councilor Sarah Cole asked about snow removal to widen streets. She said when city crews were removing snow, traffic was down to one lane on 69th Street between Western Avenue and Cliff Avenue while she was taking her kids to school. 

Hansen said there was discussion about alerting the public about certain areas, but an alternative route may have led traffic into another crew removing snow. 

“We were all over the city,” Hansen said. “To tell you to take a different route, you may take a different route and find the same situation. We worked 24/7 picking up snow because we had to get capacity. We don’t know when the next big snowfall event is coming.” 

Freeze-thaw cycle impacts pothole numbers 

Hansen said the city street crew averages around 3,700 requests for potholes throughout the 2,569 lane miles in the city. 

Cole asked Hansen if there was any new technology regarding filling potholes and how costs impact the use of different substances for potholes.

“As far as technology, I wish I could be the person that could admit some to completely fix these,” Hansen said. “I don’t think there’s really anything out there technology wise.”

Hansen said during winter months, the city only uses cold mix on asphalt streets which are very temporary fixes. That cost is about $60-$70 a ton. 

Hot mix for asphalt streets can patch potholes better and last longer but can’t be used until May. That cost is about $150-$350 a ton. 

Many of the city councilors thanked Hansen and his crew for all its hard work clearing snow from city streets.