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Farmington, Farmington Hills

January 8, 2013

Cities get trucks rolling for 2013 snow season

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

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According to public services employees in Farmington and Farmington Hills, the city is ready to clean up whatever weather is in store for the 2013 winter season.

FARMINGTON/ FARMINGTON HILLS —  After an unseasonably warm 2011-12 winter, public service workers in Farmington and Farmington Hills are already gearing up for what looks to be a snow-filled start to 2013.

In Farmington, Public Works Superintendent Chuck Eudy has only been on the job for a few months, following 18 years in the water department. And while he’s still getting used to his new position, there’s one thing he knows for sure — he’s got a top-notch crew manning the city’s streets this winter.

“I have a very well-trained and very dedicated crew. They’ll be there through the whole storm, and they clear up the whole town, then they go home and have to shovel their own driveways,” he said.

Eudy said that, following a snowfall of about 3-4 inches, it takes Farmington Public Works employees about four hours to clear all of the major city roads. From there, the salt and plow trucks head to municipal parking lots and then residential streets, which takes an additional six hours.

“We always stay until we have all the streets cleared, even if it means going into overtime,” he said. “Many cities don’t do residential streets, if it means going over hours.”

While the city employees will no doubt be working hard to keep the streets safe and clear of snow this season, he said residents should do their part, as well.

“The biggest thing we see that complicates snow removal is when contractors move snow out into the streets and expect us to remove it,” he said. “Wait until you see the salt trucks go by, and wait a little while before you run out and clear your own driveway.”

He also advised residents to move cars out of residential streets when Farmington declares a snow emergency, so salt trucks and plows can completely clear the way.

“When you see salt trucks on the road, give them room,” he said. “Let them do their jobs, and once the roads are cleared, you can sail on through.”

Kevin McCarthy, superintendent of public works for Farmington Hills, agreed that residents should be mindful of city trucks and plows. Unlike many surrounding areas, however, Farmington Hills does not declare snow emergencies, requiring residents to remove vehicles from streets, or have any other snow ordinances.

“We don’t require them as part of city code to shovel sidewalks, nor do we shovel sidewalks. The only shoveling that goes on is around municipal buildings,” he said. “But we sure would love people to get their cars off the street so we can get them cleaned up.”

Before residential streets, though, the city needs to clear major roads, which McCarthy said his crews begin plowing and salting before the snow is even done falling, in order to make sure they’re safe. After a snowstorm, the process to clear major roadways of snow and ice can take between 20 and 30 hours, McCarthy said.

“After the main roads, we go to residential roads. We have a little over 200 miles of local road, so if we make two or more passes, that’s about a thousand miles,” he said.

According to McCarthy, Farmington Hills has a winter maintenance budget this year of about $1.7 million, which includes labor, equipment and materials, such as road salt. He does admit that the city did save some money on salt this year, since there was much left over after last year’s mild winter. Due to purchasing contracts, though, the city still had to buy a minimum amount of salt for the 2012-13 season.

McCarthy said that, despite the fact that Farmington Hills has no snow shoveling or snow emergency ordinances on the books, he does hope that people will do their part to help the city and their neighbors stay safe when the flakes begin to fall.

“We get a lot of calls, and the biggest one is that we put snow at the end of their driveway (while plowing). We don’t do that on purpose. There are 23,000 plus driveways in this town, and a lot of people think we should clear those driveways, but that’s physically impossible,” he said. “We encourage people to hire a service, if they can’t do it themselves, or hire some neighbor kids to clear it. And also we encourage people to help seniors to clear their driveway, if they can.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.