Road-clearing crews are having to quickly pivot operations thanks to the sudden temperature swings in Edmonton of late.
“We did experience some rapidly-dropping freezing temperatures over the course of the night,” Andrew Grant, general supervisor of infrastructure field operations, parks and roads services, said on Tuesday.
“When we started to see the rain turn to sleet and sleet turn to snow, we did see some actual beneficial impacts of that.
“The sleet and snow actually adhered to our residential roadways, ultimately causing some friction on that sheer ice.”
Grant said crews started depositing a heavy chip and sand mix to try and improve traction.
But then, the wind picked up, causing crews to change gears again.
“The decision was made to shut down our snow pickup crews. There was a risk that the end dump trucks would have troubles dumping their loads.”
When that happened, the teams were reassigned to start operating more sander trucks and graders.
“This is a rare January,” Grant said. “But we are prepared. We do have a lot of tools available to us. We’re using all of them as the conditions require.”
Crews are now continuing to clear both priority one and two roads, as well as active pathways.
On Monday, Edmonton’s mayor, Amarjeet Sohi, sympathized with residents frustrated about the state of city roads.
“We’ve got to do better and I am absolutely committed to asking these questions as we update our snow and ice policy this year.
“We need to have a better response in place,” he said.
“Our staff is working really, really hard — my hat’s off to all the people who are out there clearing our roads and neighbourhoods — it’s a tough job and they do the hard work. I think we need to revisit our policy. Our policy is not matching people’s expectations.”
As of Tuesday, Grant said his instructions remain to clear snow down to the bare pavement in residential areas, as per the existing snow and ice pilot program.
Communities that saw the graders come through before the holidays will see crews return in the next few weeks.
“We did experience quite a bit of snowfall throughout the holiday season. A little bit every night equated to quite a bit in those residential areas.”
To date, he said about 40 per cent of residential blading has been completed in the current cycle.
Drivers are asked to give crews lots of space to work and move their vehicles when the snow clearing is slated for your neighbourhood. A map can be found here.
If residents have concerns about a particular roadway, they’re encouraged to call 311 as Grant says crews are working to address maintenance issues as needed.
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