Mechanics at the Troy Department of Public Works get this truck ready for new brakes this past fall.

Mechanics at the Troy Department of Public Works get this truck ready for new brakes this past fall.

File photo by Deb Jacques


Street teams kept eyes on roads and drains during no-snow days

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published January 22, 2019

 The inside of the salt dome at the Troy Department of Public Works is filled to capacity in this photo from November.

The inside of the salt dome at the Troy Department of Public Works is filled to capacity in this photo from November.

File photo by Deb Jacques

 The trucks, filled with salt, stand ready in the garage at the Troy Department of Public Works this past November.

The trucks, filled with salt, stand ready in the garage at the Troy Department of Public Works this past November.

File photo by Deb Jacques

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TROY — Although motorists got a break from driving on snow-covered streets during the first weeks of winter, city crews stayed busy.

Kurt Bovensiep, Troy’s director of public works, explained that the milder weather in December allowed the street teams to sweep the major roadways of debris and take care of drain issues.

“There’s always something to be done,” Bovensiep said. “It gives us the opportunity to do things we haven’t had the opportunity to do in the past.”

Crews also picked up litter in median islands and around shopping centers, which was visible due to the lack of snow, Bovensiep said.

Bovensiep said the salt is the most expensive part of snow removal operations. The Troy salt dome is filled.

“We have to take so much salt, by contract,” he said. “It’s nice having the dome. The salt isn’t going anywhere. We just use it next year.”

Bovensiep said the city crews continue to be prepared, despite the stretch of snowless days.

“We’ve seen this before. We’re well-prepared to deal with anything weatherwise we come across,” he said.

Troy city crews hit the streets at 2:30 a.m. Jan. 16 to battle the ice by salting intersections and hills in neighborhoods before morning rush hour.

“Even though we haven’t been moving snow, we’ve been salting roads,” said Scott Caruthers, streets and drains operations manager.

“The trick is (evening) rush hour,” he said. Crews will stay after 3:15 p.m., when the shift ends, if there is a forecast of freezing temperatures.

“We may keep people over and they are possibly sitting idle, but there is faster response time and they are not risking personal injury when the temperature drops (by driving back in),” he said.

Caruthers said the police, who are on the roads 24/7, alert the Department of Public Works to hazardous conditions immediately.

Caruthers also drives the streets around Troy so that he knows what’s needed to keep the roadways as safe as they can be for travel.

City crews started in August to ensure equipment was ready for Old Man Winter.

Since 2001, the city has serviced all county roads for snow and ice control — Oakland County maintains Interstate 75 and M-59.

As part of the consent agenda Aug. 27, the Troy City Council unanimously approved an agreement with Oakland County in which the county will pay Troy $291,471 for winter maintenance of Long Lake, John R, Big Beaver, Crooks, Livernois, Maple, South Boulevard, Dequindre and Adams roads, a 2 percent increase from last year’s stipend.

Bovensiep said that over the last 16 years, the city has spent an average of about $105,273 more annually clearing county roads than what the county has provided.

The city utilizes a cooperative purchasing agreement through MiDeal to purchase road salt for the current price of $45.80 per ton, a 44 percent increase per ton from last year’s cost of $31.74 a ton, but still a price reduction.

The city aims to clear roadways of snow and ice of over 4 inches within 24 hours after snow stops falling.

After clearing about 3 inches of snow off roadways that fell Jan. 19, crews kept an eye on snow blowing into roadways Jan. 21.

Bovensiep explained that the lack of traffic, due to the weekend snowfall, had positive and negative effects on the removal process.

“Salt works best with traffic,” he said, noting that crews add calcium chloride to the mix so it works better in frigid temperatures.

Bovensiep said that by Monday morning, Jan. 21, crews directed efforts on clearing snow drifts caused by the strong winds. “When the wind blows, the roads can ice up pretty quickly.”

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