With the weather seemingly changing by the day, the City of Edmonton said it is constantly adjusting its road-clearing approach.
The warmer temperatures over the weekend caused the city to once again shift its approach to apply more sand and salt to the roads to create more traction.
Attention is also being paid to sidewalks. The city said ice has been one of the biggest issues this winter.
“There’s probably more ice throughout the city this year than we’ve seen in the past few years,” said Andrew Grant, general supervisor of infrastructure operations with the City of Edmonton.
“With the fluctuating temperatures, I think we can all agree that it creates a lot of freeze/thaw scenarios. No different than our city’s privately owned sidewalks versus city sidewalks. The precipitation melts then it refreezes, so it’s just a constant battle with Mother Nature this year.
“It’s something that we’re continuously working on. We’ll probably be continuously working on it for weeks to come.”
Another big issue that arose with temperatures above 0 C over the weekend was pooling water — thick ice and massive windrows are blocking catch basins.
“With the warmer weather, catch basins have become a bit of an operational task to release the water that we see ponding,” said Grant.
“When we see these fluctuating temperatures, this is one of the complications that we have, especially in relation to the windrows that we’re seeing. We do have teams out trying to mitigate that problem and we’ll continue to work throughout the city to expose and open up some of those catch basins.”
Grant said residents who see pooling, particularly if it is leading to flooded property, should call 311. The city will work with Epcor to address the blocked catch basins.
While dealing with pooling water is not new for city road crews, Grant said blading the residential areas down to bare pavement this year has made the windrows larger than previous years, creating additional access challenges.
“This is something that we usually deal with in the spring,” Grant added.
“It’s nothing new to us when it comes to the ponding of water around those (catch basins). It’s just a bit more out there in front of us right now because 1) it’s Jan. 24 — not something we usually see this time of year — and then it’s compounded by the windrows now that they’re clearing down to bare pavement in those residential areas.”
When asked why road crews don’t clear the catch basins when they’re in neighbourhoods removing snow, Grant said a lot of them are already buried.
“We don’t know where they are. There’s thousands of them throughout the city flowing in all directions. So our teams, prior to even getting there, don’t know where they are,” he said.
“There’s space parameters around where we’re trying to put the snow. If we do see and identify a catch basin, yeah, absolutely we’re going to make sure it’s free and clear.”
Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said he understands the frustrations of Edmontonians when it comes to snow removal in the city. He said the catch basins should never be blocked.
“There should be a Bobcat behind a grader making sure that windrows are managed, that sidewalks are cleared, that catch basins are cleared; otherwise we have seen a huge amount of water ponding and issues around the warm weather over the weekend,” the mayor said.
“Clearing catch basins is an absolutely basic thing that our city should be doing as we go into the neighbourhoods to scrape them off or scrape them to the bare pavement.”
The city does not remove windrows from residential areas, but a pilot program was completed in the Griesbach neighbourhood last week exploring the option.
Grant also wanted to remind residents that the Phase 2 parking ban is still in place. Crews are about 56 per cent finished residential blading and are on target to finish the work in the original four-week timeline outlined by the city.
“We also are providing the neighbourhoods with less ruts, smoother driving surface and that’s something that’s becoming more apparent as we continue on in our pilot of completing our residential areas.”
City council will be presented with a report in the spring on the current snow-removal policy.