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Keeping roads clear: Airdrie’s snow-plowing plan

By: Matt Durnan

  |  Posted: Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 11:08 am

The City of Airdrie has five snowplows that are also capable of sanding and salting to ensure that city streets are safe for motorists and pedestrians.
The City of Airdrie has five snowplows that are also capable of sanding and salting to ensure that city streets are safe for motorists and pedestrians.
File Photo/Rocky View Publishing

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The recent Chinook did its part to clear Airdrie’s roads of snow and ice, however, the warm weather phenomenon isn’t very reliable when it comes to road maintenance – that’s where the City of Airdrie’s Parks and Public Works Department comes in.

Equipped with five snowplows that double as sand and salt trucks, a team of 14 people working two shifts and subterranean technology, the Public Works Department ensures roads and paths are kept safe for motorists and pedestrians.

Roads in Airdrie are cleared on a priority basis; primary arteries such as Yankee Valley Boulevard, Main Street, First Avenue, Eighth Street and Veterans Boulevard are at the top of the list and are the first to be cleared when the snow starts to fall.

Smaller throughways and residential streets are taken care of on an as needed basis, according to Archie Lang, manager of Parks and Public Works with the City.

“Staff will drive through each neighbourhood to inspect which roads need to be cleared first,” said Lang.

“We inspect and re-inspect because certain roads can be more susceptible to snow drifts and ice so we make sure we’re getting out in front of those areas so that we’re not having to go through there numerous times.”

Lang says residents are encouraged to call the City if their streets require snow clearing.

When temperatures fluctuate, ice forms on roads and salt or sand trucks are required to combat slippery conditions.

Dramatic temperature changes present a unique challenge, Lang said, adding the target is always moving as to whether salt or sand is needed.

Salt is rendered ineffective when temperatures hold steady at -20°C or lower, according to Lang, and that’s when City staff must keep a constant eye on forecasts and make use of subterranean road temperature sensors.

“These sensors are placed 18 inches below the surface of the road and they measure both the surface temperature and the subsurface temperature,” said Lang.

“On days when it may be snowing but the subsurface temperature is still above freezing the snow melts once it hits the pavement.”

Sensors are located at the north and south ends of the city; one is at the intersection of Yankee Valley Boulevard and Market Street, the other at Veterans Boulevard and Williamstown Boulevard.

“Having this information on hand lets us know whether or not the roads are going to stay iced and what we need to do to treat them,” said Lang.

Lang noted City staff keep a close watch on forecasts up to 12 hours in advance to determine road conditions.

Extra hours are taken on by members of the Parks and Public Works Department, who work night shifts to ensure that roads are clear for morning motorists. The department is also in charge of clearing non-residential sidewalks and 94 kilometres of pathways and that run adjacent to city parks.

When it comes to keeping residential sidewalks cleared, Lang says it’s up to residents to do their part.

“The rule is for people to clear the sidewalk in front of their homes within 24 hours of the conclusion of a snowfall,” said Lang.

Residents who don’t comply with this may be given a written or verbal warning from a bylaw enforcement officer.

If the sidewalk is not cleared, residents can be fined $500 under the Community Standards Bylaw.

If residents still do not comply, the City may remove the snow and the resident will be billed.

Failing payment, the cost will be added to the property’s tax bill.

Snowplow routes and snow clearing procedures can be found online at the City of Airdrie website www.airdrie.ca


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