City hears snowplowing update

Cambridge City Council
Due to the abundance of snowfall this season, the Cambridge City
Council received a snowplowing update during its council meeting
Monday, Jan. 3.

Rachel Kytonen
[email protected]

Due to the abundance of snowfall this season, the Cambridge City Council received a snowplowing update during its council meeting Monday, Jan. 3.
Public Works Director Steve Wegwerth said the city starts plowing streets at approximately 3 inches of snowfall, or as weather conditions dictate. If it starts snowing during the day, Wegwerth said the plow trucks makes one pass on each street, and sand as necessary. He said complete plowing begins around 2 a.m. when winter parking restrictions begin on city streets.

He said the city is also responsible for maintaining the Cambridge airport. He said after the city is under control, his department will plow out what needs to be done during the day at the airport, and then finish it on the evenings or weekend. Since it’s mostly a hobby airport, Wegwerth said this method works well and helps keep costs down.

Pictured: Cambridge Mayor Marlys Palmer, along with Council Members Chris Caulk (left) and Dave Schornstein, are officially sworn in during the Cambridge City Council meeting held Monday, Jan. 3. All three were re-elected in November. (Photo by Rachel Kytonen)

Snow is collected, and brought to the city’s dump site located on a vacant city-owned lot behind Lowe’s. Wegwerth noted the snow-dumping site is open to any business in town.

Wegwerth said due to the large amounts of snow this year, his department has been more concerned with keeping intersections clear, and lane narrowings. He said in certain parts of town where there has been visibility concerns at intersections due to the large snowbanks, his department has taken a plow truck and basically “cut a shelf” on the snowbank to prepare for the next snowfall. He said the department will also take scoops out of snowbanks by stop signs, and other intersections of concern.

Each snow truck driver within the department is assigned an area in the city, and Wegwerth said when that employees finishes their area, they will offer assistance to the other employees. Once the work in town is completed, then the drivers head out to the airport.

Wegwerth said the city pays $36.80 per ton for salt, and about one-third of that cost per ton for sand. The city has contracted for 350 tons of salt per year for the last 25 years, Wegwerth said. He said so far this year, the city has gone through 275 tons of salt.

“We will have to be careful with what goes out the rest of this season,” Wegwerth noted.

As far as sidewalks, the city is responsible for seven to eight miles of sidewalks within city limits. There is a total of 34 miles of sidewalk within the city, and if a resident has a sidewalk in front of their property, they are responsible for keeping it clear and safe, and salted. Wegwerth said residents also are not allowed to plow or shovel snow into the city right-of-way, or across from the right-of-way.

While the city doesn’t have designated snow emergency routes, Wegwerth said priority is given to school routes, routes to the hospital and major routes in and out of the city.

“They are treated as snow emergency routes, but aren’t designated that,” Wegwerth said.

Overall, Wegwerth said he is proud of the hard workers within his department.

“I think our streets look pretty good during the snowfalls,” Wegwerth said. “This year has been a challenge though.”

Cambridge Mayor Marlys Palmer said she feels more citizens have been paying closer attention this year to keeping their sidewalks shoveled and clear.

The council praised Wegwerth and his public works department.

“I think all you guys do a wonderful job,” noted Council Member Lisa Iverson.

In other action the council:

• Approved the purchase of four 2011 Crown Victoria squad cars for the police department at a cost of $22,655 each. The price is the state bid price, and the cars will be purchased through Elk River Ford.

• Approved a motion selecting the Isanti County News as the city’s official newspaper.

• Approved recommendations for council committee appointments. Council Member Lisa Iverson was selected as Acting Mayor.