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Snow removal is challenging for Decorah's Street Department with high amounts of snow we've had this season

Posted: Sun, Mar 3, 2019 10:25 AM
The blizzard last weekend was a challenge, with significant wind and drifting (all photos courtesy of Decorah Street Department)

Two of the biggest challenges the Decorah Street Department has in the winter are keeping up with clearing the snow and finding places to put the snow.

City Engineer Jeremy Bril has been on the job for just over a month now.  He says, "Typically after significant snowfalls we have a few days to clean up and haul out large piles. With the frequency of large snowstorms we have had in the past month, it has been difficult to keep up. As many people can relate to, we are also running out of places to go with the snow--not only along street boulevards but also in our storage areas where we haul snow from downtown streets and parking lots. We have been very thankful for the help we have received from other city departments in removing the snow as well as the community's patience as we try to keep up with all this snow."

The street department has eight people, which includes seven full-time snow plow drivers on staff. Major snowfalls have two people operating motor graders, one running the snowblower, and four in the snow plows. The eighth person drives around in a pickup with a plow, helping open up residential streets and clearing parking lots and alleys.

An eight hour shift is a normal day, but a 12-14 hour day is not uncommon this time of year. "The time we start (our day) depends on the amount of snow we receive," shared Bril, who added, "If there is any accumulation overnight, the latest we will start is 4:00 a.m. For large snow events, we will have four staff start at 2:00 a.m. to work downtown and three additional staff start at 4:00 a.m."

Decorah residents might be surprised to know there are approximately 70 miles of streets and alleys the street department is responsible for maintaining.
"I think one of the unique things about Decorah is the amount of snow we haul out and remove from the downtown area. We do as much of this as we can with city staff but we also have a contract with Bruening Rock Products, Inc. to help us haul out the snow. We will prep the snow for removal and then use our large snowblower to place it in their dump trucks. We would not be able to remove all the snow nearly as quickly or efficiently without help and we greatly appreciate BRP being available more or less "on call" whenever we need assistance," says Bril.

Bril concluded by telling, "Our staff works extremely hard and takes a lot of pride in their work. We all enjoy contributing to our community by helping to keep the streets, alleys, and parking lots clear. Most of all we just love playing in the snow!"

Widening streets in the Flats with help from Bruening Rock Products, Inc.
The snow storage areas are filling up fast
Crews have had to use their V-Plow attachment morre this year than any year they can recall
If crews are not busy plowing snow, they are usually busy hauling out the snow piles