SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The city of Sioux Falls has more than 3,380 lane miles of streets from which to clear snow.
There’s a plan to clear those streets but which pieces of the plan are executed depends on the amount and type of snow that falls, said Dustin Hansen, the city’s street superintendent.
“Our goal is typically in 24 to 48 hours to have all the streets cleared in the city,” Hansen said. “We typically average 30 hours. A four-inch snow we can do it a lot faster and be under 30. But with this snow, you are pushing nine inches of heavy snow. That will push us closer to 40 hours.”
So, with fewer inches, it could be at worst, about 30 hours before an individual street is cleared. Opposite to the Dec. 8 and 9th storm amount, it could be about 40 hours before an individual street is cleared.
The street department uses lane miles for its street plan. A mile of a four-lane street accounts for four miles.
The city in general uses centerline miles, said Wes Phillips, a principal engineer with the city of Sioux Falls. The city has 889 centerline miles.
If you laid out lane miles on a map, 3,000 lane miles are about the distance from Sioux Falls to the Alaska border. The 889 centerline miles are enough miles to take a driver to Dallas, Texas.
The city’s snow removal plan includes a priority system where emergency routes are cleared first. Those are typically main arteries in the city which are routes to hospitals and similar.
“We have 850 lanes miles of emergency routes,” Hansen said. “You can basically get to an emergency route in four or five blocks anywhere in the city.”
The next lane miles in priority are secondary routes.
Hansen said the secondary routes total 440 lane miles. Those would receive attention after the emergency routes, he said.
But in the case of the Dec. 8 and 9 storm that changed. The city issued a snow alert because more than a few inches of snow fell, Hansen said.
The snow removal structure changes under a snow alert.
During a snow alert, the 440 lane miles designated secondary routes are treated the same way as residential streets because of the amount of snow and the time it will take to clear the snow, Hansen said.
Zones are used when a snow alert is issued.
Zone I is downtown Sioux Falls. “All streets in the downtown are emergency routes,” Hansen said.
Zone 2 is called the core. That runs from roughly 5th Street to Western Avenue and 14th and 33rd, Hansen said.
This is an area where parking may alternate from one side of a street to another as crews tackle the snow with a 24-hour period, Hansen said.
“We can’t go into that zone until 8 a.m. the next day,” Hansen said. A crew will work on north and south roads from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Another crew follows on east and west streets from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. “This allows for parking on side streets,” Hansen said of the schedule.
“They are usually done by 5 a.m.,” Hansen said.
As the city grows, more lane and centerline miles are added.
“We are constantly growing the numbers,” Phillips said.
On average the city has been adding 10 to 15 centerline miles a year over the past several years, Phillips said.
Sioux falls has 889 centerline miles now, it had 864.44 in 2020. Five years ago, there were 830.33 centerline miles.
Those centerline miles add to the lane miles covered by the city’s snow removal crews.
The lane miles for 2022 are still being determined, Phillips said, but the city had 3,384.91 in 2021 and 3,253,65 in 2020.
Sioux Falls had 3,060.46 lane miles in 2016.
Hansen said there is no specific point on lane miles that triggers adding more city snow removal staff.
Three full-time equipment operators were added last year. Two more will be added this year, he said.
The city can also use staff from parks and recreation and other departments to help with snow removal, Hansen said.
Sioux Falls also hires between 20 and 25 seasonal employees that work from the end of November until early March.