City crews mastering art of snow removal after 7th storm


by Adam Walser

Posted on February 15, 2010 at 5:32 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 15 at 6:29 PM

How would you rate the city's snow response this week?

In metro Louisville, hundreds of city employees work to clear the  roads and keep them open.

Monday’s winter storm proved especially challenging, since it kept snowing throughout much of the day.

This marked the 7th time that city crews have put their snow plan into action, bringing in workers for 12 hour shifts of more.

The cost to the city is quickly rising and so is the level of fatigue among many employees.

It's become like clockwork at the city's Public Works maintenance lots.

Trucks roll in every few minutes, loading up with tons of salts to help keep streets clear of snow and ice.

In the East District, 26 drivers run 33 routes maintaining 843 miles of road.

Joe Barnett keeps it all moving, he said, “I was here at 7:30 last night. And you haven't left? I haven't left yet, but I plan on going here shortly.”

Tommy Frazor was making his third round over the same route early this afternoon.

“We work so much, sometimes, the days blend into the next day,” said Frazor.

Frazor plows roads and dumps salt for up to 16 hours at a time.

“It gets sort of rough on your legs. Sometimes you've got to get out and stretch them a little bit. How about your back? Your back too. Everything gets stiff. You're in that position all day.”

Others spend all day walking, like 150 MSD employees who clear snow from as many of the more than 90,000 catch basins as they can to keep slush from refreezing.

All that work from all of the different city departments means a shrinking snow removal budget.

“Every department builds into its budget a certain amount of money for overtime and salt and things of that nature, but we're in the seventh event and it's February 15th. So it is what it is.”

For now, all the Public Works employees can do is keep plenty of trucks keeping plenty of salt on the roads and dig in for another long shift.

“What do you tell the wife and kids?” asked Adam Walser, Frazor responded, ”Winter will be over soon. I love you. I miss you.”

Tommy Frazor hopes to be back home at least for a little while after his shift this evening.  City workers who drive commercial vehicles can't be on the road more than 16 hours a day by law.

The mayor says we haven't even tapped into more than 25,000 tons of salt reserves under the zoo yet but he reminds us, we still have about 5 more weeks of winter left.