Local communities ready to battle snowy setbacks

By: Linda Shepard, Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published December 18, 2018

 Bloomfield Township Department of Public Works Director Tom Trice said the township’s salt shed is full, and liquid deicer is topped off  too.

Bloomfield Township Department of Public Works Director Tom Trice said the township’s salt shed is full, and liquid deicer is topped off too.

File photo by Deb Jacques

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The shovel is posted by the door, the windshield scraper is ready to roll, and you’ve been compulsively checking your weather app all day.

There’s no way you’ll be caught off guard by a heavy snow.

Luckily, neither will the municipalities in the Eagle’s coverage area. Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, the villages and the county have their salt and plows prepared to move out when those flakes inevitably fall.

Bloomfield Hills City Manager David Hendrickson said quick road clearing during ice and snow season is one of the services the city is most proud of.

“Each fall, we prepare our trucks and snow removal equipment for the upcoming season. We always have approximately 2,220 tons of salt available for salting, but use 1,400 tons on average (a year),” he said. “Since we’re a small city, we’re able to monitor and respond quickly.”

Preparation is the name of the game in Bloomfield Township too, where Department of Public Works Director Tom Trice said the work began weeks ago behind the scenes ahead of winter.

“Everything is ready to go and has been tested,” he said. “We made a full round a couple of weeks ago, and have been on four call-outs by the Police Department to salt. It’s been an early snow and ice season,” Trice said. “The salt shed is full and the liquid deicing is full as well.”

In Birmingham, Director of Public Services Lauren Wood said the salt dome is packed with around 3,000 tons, and routes have been revised for efficiency.

“We’ve been ready, with some small snow events earlier this season. We’re still finishing up leaves and sweeping streets,” she said. “Equipment is all set; crews are trained and ready to go.”

For roads maintained by the Road Commission for Oakland County, Senior Manager of Communications and Public Information Craig Bryson said there’s plenty of salt and the trucks are in good shape.

Contractors have the villages of Beverly Hills, Franklin and Bingham Farms covered.

“We have a private Department of Public Services,” Beverly Hills Village Manager Chris Wilson said. “We purchase our salt from the state and think we have more than enough. We have four different trucks we use in different capacities. Two have underbody plows — they are bigger trucks — and we have two smaller trucks for cul de sacs, shoulders of the roads and the narrower streets. Everything has been prepared, and we are ready for winter weather.”

“We contract through Johnson Landscaping, an area firm that we have used for a while,” said Ken Marten, Bingham Farms clerk and executive. “The owner is a Detroit firefighter. He seems like he is really on top of things. We plow whenever the snow hits 2 inches. Other communities have a different threshold. We salt if it is icy and slippery.”  

Franklin Village Manager James Creech said Franklin also contracts village snow removal with Johnson Landscaping.

“Jerry Johnson is a big-time weather watcher. He really studies the subject. He is on top of it right away,” Creech said. “We have hidden areas and narrow streets. They do the major streets first, and after those, the local streets.”

So, with the troops in place, the real battle will be on the streets — that is to say, whether residents assist with snow and ice removal by removing themselves from the path of clearing.

“Please be mindful of snowfall amounts and don’t park in the street, if you can avoid it, until the plows have cleared the street,” Wood said. “As a general rule of thumb, we don’t clear streets until about 4 inches of snow has fallen. It will all depend on the case-by-case snow event. Plows clear residential streets after a snow event has stopped.”

In some areas, municipality-declared snow emergencies can result in tickets for those who leave vehicles in the road and in the way of plows. To learn more about your local government ordinances or to see when a snow emergency has been declared in your area, visit your municipality’s website or check out the Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle’s Facebook page for updates as they become available throughout the season.

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