Committee hears snow removal stats and so far it's been an arduous winter

The city of Willmar rec-eived approximately 41 inches of snow from Nov. 29 through Jan. 1 compared with about 25 inches for the same period one year ago. The City Public Works Department has already declared five snow emergencies, compared to the...

A major grind
City crews remove snow from residential areas following two snowstorms that moved through the Willmar area last month. In a report this week to a council committee, the Public Works department said 41 inches of snow has fallen since Nov. 29. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

The city of Willmar rec-eived approximately 41 inches of snow from Nov. 29 through Jan. 1 compared with about 25 inches for the same period one year ago. The City Public Works Department has already declared five snow emergencies, compared to the five to seven snow em-ergencies typically declared all winter.

These and other snow rem-oval-related statistics were re-ported by Public Works Director Holly Wilson to the City Council's Public Works/Safety Committee on Tuesday.

The report was requested by committee member Bruce De-Blieck.

Wilson said Monson Excav-ating of Willmar was hired du-ring four of the five snow emergencies to help haul snow.

During the period, the city spent 1,601 hours plowing and sanding for a total of 13 times out.


The city spent 1,508 hours hauling snow from parking lots, the central business district, the First Street bridge and the airport.

Wilson said employees plowed and blew snow at the airport because the height of snow banks along the runway and taxiways is not allowed to exceed about 18 inches because of the height of wings on some planes.

The department spent 104 hours widening residential streets and at the airport. Of 3,213 hours spent on snow-related activities, 921 hours were overtime.

DeBlieck expressed a concern about overtime hours being spent to plow residential streets curb to curb to keep two lanes open, rather than just plowing one lane during overtime hours and returning during regular hours to open the remainder of the streets.

Wilson said she needed to verify the amount of overtime.

Under city policy, the department first opens primary streets, which include Business 71/23, Third Street Southwest and Becker Avenue.

Opened next are secondary streets, which are Trott Avenue, Willmar Avenue, Gorton Avenue, Ella Avenue, 15th Avenue, 30th Street Northwest, 15th Street, Kandiyohi Avenue, Seventh Street West, County Road 41, Julii Street, Minnesota Avenue, Ninth Street, 23rd Street, Becker Avenue and Fifth Street Southwest.

"Those are the main ones we try and keep open and then we come back and do the residential ones,'' she said. "We try and maintain passability for the majority of the streets.''


Committee member Rick Fagerlie asked Wilson if the department sends employees home between snow events.

Wilson and City Administrator Michael Schmit said employees have been "catching up'' between storms on other work such as opening storm water catch basins during recent rain events and applying water to ice skating rinks.

Wilson said the department has not sent people home during the week very often.

"That hasn't been what we've done in the past,'' she said. "Particularly this year we've had a lot of consecutive storms per week, so to get caught up we've been working full time to get caught up on snow removal and hauling and getting ice rinks ready, paths, blowing the snow and reducing the banks along some of the intersections.''

Wilson said the overall 2010 budget is slightly over because of maintenance activities such as street patching, but overtime is not over budget even though the city has done a lot of snow plowing, she said. The overtime includes snow removal activities in January and February 2010.

In other business, the committee:

- Voted to let city staff work with the Community Christian School to install warning signals and install a sidewalk for a school crossing on 19th Avenue Southwest.

- Approved final payment of $101,283 to Duininck Inc. of Prinsburg for reconstruction of Trott Avenue Southwest from 10th Street to 16th Street Southwest and 11th Street Southwest from Trott Avenue to Highway 12. Total contract was $943,486. The street was rebuilt in 2009 after installation of a portion of the force main sewer line for the new wastewater treatment project.


- Approved final payment of $9,099 to Duininck Inc. for reconstruction of the North Swansson Field parking lot and trail head improvements. The total contract was $185,049.

- Approved the final payment of $48,850 to Di-Mar Construction of Excelsior for pump stations associated with the wastewater treatment project. Total contract was $1,954,012.

- Approved a 12-month, $6,125 agreement with SafeAssure Consultants of Willmar to update safety policies and provide training to city staff under federal and state Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations. The update is needed after a random inspection found OSHA violations this past summer at city facilities.

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