Snowplows in Ferndale get ready to head out on the road after a recent heavy snowfall.

Snowplows in Ferndale get ready to head out on the road after a recent heavy snowfall.

Photo by Brian Louwers

Cities ready to fight off snow on roads

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published December 19, 2017

OAKLAND COUNTY — The snow has started to fall hard recently, and local public works departments say they are prepared to deal with any amount of it.

After a recent heavy snowfall, cities including Ferndale and Berkley were able to put their plows to good use, as well as spread salt throughout the streets.

Carlos Kennedy, with Ferndale’s Department of Public Works, said the city is doing pretty well right now with its salt, which currently sits at 2,500 tons. He also noted that the city has 15 vehicles it can use for whatever needs arise.

Depending on the amount of snowfall the city could get, Kennedy said the department will send out vehicles accordingly.

“We definitely will keep roads open for rush hour,” he said. “Once rush hour’s done, we’ll back off on salt and rely more on the plows to move the snow instead of burning so much salt. We’ll let the guys take a break in the middle of the night, get some rest here in the yard.”

Before going out on a run, Kennedy said, they first make sure the equipment is running well and do routine maintenance on all mechanical parts. He also said it’s important that the employees are ready before they begin their cleanup.

“We prep our (workers) well, making sure they get enough rest and they’re prepared for the storm, if available, because they have personal lives as well,” he said. “This job is a sacrifice, so we plan for it. You know, some of us, instead of watching movies or going to the movies, we watch the Weather Channel instead.”

The cities of Berkley and Huntington Woods share a salt barn for their use, which holds around 700 tons, but both use their own equipment on the roads to remove snow.

When they’re getting prepared for a big snowfall, Berkley DPW Director Derrick Schueller said they look at the expected time frame and try to anticipate what they’ll need for the event.

“Obviously, the longer the event, the more challenging it can become from a plowing standpoint,” he said. “The most recent event that we had, we basically had sort of two waves of plowing, if you will. We brought guys in to do some work in the evening, if you will, just prior to (the) rush.”

Schueller said each one of these snow events is a little bit different, so they try to get as much information from forecasters as they can and figure out a game plan. 

“It’s much easier for us to be efficient at plowing with lighter traffic,” he said. “Plowing and pushing during the overnight hours, while it can be tough on the guys, it’s the most efficient way to do it, because you don’t have everybody on the street. The vehicles have to be off the roadway, and so that does make it easier for us. By the time everybody is getting up in the morning and leaving for work, the streets are clear.”