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Some Things To Consider Regarding Road Treatment

Anyone who had followed my blogs last winter knows I was extremely dissatisfied with the city’s snow and ice removal efforts on city streets, and after this season’s first icy conditions it’s clear they have not gotten any better. What I am happy to see, though, is that other citizens are finally starting to come out with their concerns. It wasn’t like that last winter, as I was getting slammed by nearly everyone for my comments, which I belief are justified.

So what gives me the right to rate the city’s road treatment effort? I mean, I don’t have any training or experience on how it’s done, so who am I to offer any feedback? I am a driver, not to mention I lived 4 years in Minneapolis and have experienced first hand how a good street department treats roads. When I went to work in the cities at 6:30am, EVERY major road was already treated – many pretreated before the rain/snow even fell. Sanders and plows were parked on the shoulders waiting to go the night before.

Last season I heard excuses like, “Fargo’s roads were just as bad,” and “They can’t get to every road immediately.” Ok, just because other city’s roads are as bad or worse doesn’t give us permission to undercut the job. If I took the easy way out in my job and when confronted said “he/she isn’t any better,” I’d probably be fired.

Monday’s conditions weren’t even close to some we all experiences last season, and yet there were at least 45 reported accidents. Several people have stated that major arterials like State Street and Century were not even touched until after 8:00am, and it leaves one to wonder how many accidents there’d have been if the major roads were treated.

As predicted for days, the snow began to fall Sunday night – and it was a bit heavy when I was out. It was at least eight hours before the start of the morning rush, and yet the main streets weren’t sanded until after. I find this unacceptable.

I also am a firm believer in abandoning sand and switching to a salt/chemical mix. Again, when I suggested this last season, I was slammed left and right. “I don’t want my car to rust,” one would say, or “Salt’s more expensive.”

First of all, most cars built within the past 10 or so years have an anti-corrosion warranty that usually lasts to about 100,000 miles, so if your car does rust before then it’s covered. Even so, I’d rather risk a little rust than my life. Pretty sure crashing is worse for my car than rust. In all my time living in Minneapolis, I can’t recall even once I saw as rusted out as cars I see here. 

Salt is indeed more expensive than sand – up front. But, many cities have conducting research comparing the end-all costs and benefits of both, and determined that in the long run, salt is the same price or even less expensive when considering it doesn’t need to be cleaned up in the spring. No fleet of street cleaners needed to go up and down every street to blow the sand into people’s yards each year.

I will accept that many of the crashes were do to driver stupidity and arrogance, but it leaves me to wonder how many crashed they’d have been if the main roads were treated. It’s clear not everyone agrees with me on this, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop my drive to help people see that our streets can be safer.

Related Blog:
Bismarck Needs To Get Their Head Out Of the Sand (01/13/2009)