Eastpointe declared a snow emergency at noon Dec. 13, and the Department of Public Works prepared to clear the snow.

Eastpointe declared a snow emergency at noon Dec. 13, and the Department of Public Works prepared to clear the snow.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Local cities give insight on winter weather preparedness

By: Bria Brown | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published December 18, 2017

 A truck dumps salt at the Eastpointe Department of Public Works to prepare for the winter.

A truck dumps salt at the Eastpointe Department of Public Works to prepare for the winter.

Photo by Deb Jacques

EASTPOINTE/ROSEVILLE — Michigan saw its first heavy snow of the season last week, with at least 5 inches accumulating Dec. 13, which caused local departments of public works to spring into action to clear roads. 

Tony Pry, of the Eastpointe Department of Public Works, said the department starts out with two employees plowing streets at the start of the snowfall, which could go up to a total of eight employees. The department prepares the equipment by filling up trucks with salt for the roads. 

“We’re all here until the roads are clear,” said Pry. 

The department’s main concerns to keep traffic flowing are Gratiot Avenue, Nine Mile Road and Kelly Road, according to Pry. 

Once those roads are clear, the department goes for the “P2s,” otherwise known as the priority twos, which consist of the school bus and emergency routes. 

However, until the snowstorm stops, the department doesn’t clear the residential streets, Pry said. 

“Our only focus is keeping the major highways open. Once those are completed and the P2s are opened up, then we go to the residentials,” said Pry. 

With about 104 miles of roads in Eastpointe, according to Pry, it takes 32-33 hours after a storm to have the city fully cleared. 

Eastpointe declared a snow emergency beginning at noon Dec. 13, which gave residents time to remove their cars from roads. 

“Vehicles may be towed and ticketed at owner’s expense” if they were parked on residential streets, Eastpointe officials explained on the city’s Facebook page Dec. 13.

Pry said residents moving their cars off the roads would allow the department to do its job “in half the time” that it would take if cars were parked on the residential streets. 

Depending on the weather, since Pry said there are “no two storms alike,” the department can use anywhere from two to 500 tons of salt to clear roads.



Jeff Schmidt, of the Roseville Department of Public Services, agrees with Pry that every snowstorm is different.  

“We been through it so many times that we’re not intimidated by it; we know how to handle it,” said Schmidt. 

Schmidt said Roseville has six big trucks; however, one of them was down Dec. 13. 

“That’s not unusual in storms like this. You run into a few mechanical failures,” said Schmidt.

The department puts plows on any of its trucks that can accommodate a plow. The department is responsible for about 130 miles of roadway.

“We have 11 trucks on the road right now with plows on them,” Schmidt said Dec. 14.

Roseville declared a snow emergency at 6 p.m. Dec. 13. Schmidt said getting cars off the streets greatly helps the department. 

“It’s quicker and more efficient when they’re not on the road. A lot of times, when you have cars on both sides of the road, we’re forced to go down the center of the road,” he said. 

Schmidt said the department asks residents not to push snow into the residential streets. 

“You can create a hazard if they put snow on the street; when it’s wet and slushy and the temperature drops, now you have ice patches. It’s just as easy to shovel your snow from side to side,” he said.

Roseville’s salt dome holds 3,000 tons of salt, and Schmidt said it was “topped off and ready to go for the season.” 

“When we know a storm is coming, we make sure all the trucks are loaded and ready to roll as well. We make our headway once the storm is winding down,” he said. 

During a storm, the department focuses on main roads with more traffic and higher speeds. 

“The primary roads are Gratiot Avenue, Little Mack and the half-mile roads,” said Schmidt.  

Following those roads, the department focuses on the “secondaries.” 

“Those are the main through-streets, which are not necessarily main roads. They’re more of side streets and bus routes,” he said. 

“Once those have all been completed, then we do into the side streets and dead ends,” he added. 

Schmidt said the department stays in contact with police and lets police know whose vehicles are in streets while they are in the area. Residents who keep their cars on the streets can be ticketed, and residents who are found shoveling their snow into the streets can be ticketed as well.