Omaha Street Maintenance Engineer Austin Rowser says the extra resources from other city departments are helping crews keep up with snow clearing efforts.
Question: What are you hearing from your perspective?
ROWSER: What we’re seeing right now is the major streets we've been focusing on they're coming together nicely, where it's just water on the roads and we do have some of the roads are left in certain locations particularly in intersections and turn lanes and things like that. For the most part, feels like our major streets are coming together nicely.
Q: And this snow storm, this plan as we had Omaha Mayor talking with us just a few moment ago, this is a different plan this time around for this snowstorm. How do you think this plan compares to what you all have done in the past?
ROWSER: Well, we were able to get some more resources from some other departments in the city which was very nice so it has helped us out tremendously. Particularly the help we got from the parks department I want to thank for giving us additional resources from the parks department, that's been a tremendous help for us on major streets just to have some extra bigger trucks that are out running those busy streets. It's been a huge help. I can't stress enough how much of a help that's been to have other departments stepping up and play and coming in to help us out. Lend a helping hand so to speak.
Q: Give us an idea, Austin, how many plows do you have out on the roads?
ROWSER: A typical number we throw out there is about 100, so with the extra support we've gotten in from the parks department, we're about 110 to 115 right now. That's bolstered our force quite a bit. We have the residential contractors which tend to bring about 100 as well, which is a fair number. Some of the streets are beginning to see pavement and some are still a little snow packed in area.
Q: Is there a plan on getting into those? Are you going back over those same routes again this afternoon?
ROWSER: Absolutely. We will absolutely continue to run the major streets throughout the day today. We're in a bit of a lull for the weather but expect to see some more this afternoon.
Q: Austin, how big of a deal is it for you, how big of a problem is that blowing snow because we're seeing those wind gusts, 45-miles an hour, sustained winds, more than 30-miles per hour, blowing that snow just as soon as the trucks get off the roads how big of a problem is that for your guys?
ROWSER: That can be a very big problem. Like I say when we continue to run the streets, it's not as much of a problem. It's when we feel like we're done with them and have to keep coming back. That more of a problem because we're not able to move on to the other tiers in the operation. Fortunately, the snow this morning has been all right enough and heavy enough, even though we do have the strong winds it's not drifting as bad as it could. We do have some areas where drifting is a problem but it's not as bad as it could be. Sure.
Q: And what about Wednesday morning?
ROWSER: I mean, once you get the streets and roads clear, then we always we're always concerned about re-freezing and then the potential for black ice that can be so treacherous, and so dangerous for people.
Q: What can you tell us, what's the plan going into Wednesday morning?
ROWSER: Going into Wednesday, we'll still have a lot of operation to do, uh, even once we get the rains and everything clear where people can drive the streets. There's a lot more that goes into it than that. We'll have to come back, there's a lot of clean up we do, particularly with interceptions and intersections and making sure we're pushing the snow all the way out into the street. We tend to come back and clean up curb lines and clean up intersections. We continue to do that well after the storm. We'll be in residential areas and all that time we're out doing that we're spreading salt as well. That salt would go out and help refreeze in those situations.