Welcome!

News Feed Item

Behind the Storm -- The Crucial Role of Public Works in Winter Storm Fighting

KANSAS CITY, MI--(Marketwired - February 27, 2014) - Recent winter storms and blizzards have challenged North American communities, who may or may not be accustomed to seeing snow and sleet. Check out the APWA "Behind the Storm - Role of Public Works in Winter Storm fighting" Fact Sheet to learn more about how public works provides vital services to cities, counties, towns, states, and provinces during snow and ice storms and severe winter weather emergencies.

What agencies respond during Winter Storm Emergencies?

When winter storms occur, the local Public Works Departments and State/ Provincial Departments of Transportation (DOTs) in the U.S. and Canada are the primary government agencies responsible for snow and ice control. They must plan and prepare year-round, and anticipate storms in order to provide safety and mobility on highways, roads and streets. Snow and ice storms severely disrupt surface travel and create hazardous conditions that cause thousands of accidents annually. The toll from fatalities, injuries, property and vehicle damage and disruptions to commerce is in the billions of dollars each year. Other routine activities, such as work, medical, educational, religious, social and sporting events and appointments are affected by cancellations due to the weather. Therefore, winter weather snow and ice control operations are one of the most vital functions of Public Works.

How do public works agencies plan for Winter Storm Emergencies?

While most of Canada and the U.S. routinely experience winter storms to some degree, even the southern regions have been hit with winter events that overwhelm the limited capabilities of those agencies. In many towns, cities, counties and states/provinces throughout most of North America, what seems to be increasingly severe winters has focused the attention of officials on snow equipment, material stockpiles, and keeping a well-trained and ready workforce of snow fighters. Most people don't think about snow removal until a storm hits. When it does, agencies struggle to meet expected levels of service, which often leads to the public's criticism of winter operations. Winter weather road operations have always had to contend with other functions and services for funding. Often winter maintenance-related items seem to be one of their first to be reduced in times of budgetary cutbacks, especially when warmer weather has prevailed. The foundation of an effective Winter Operations Plan is the establishment of Levels of Service, which are typically based on a jurisdiction's classification of roads and streets. This prioritizes every highway, road and street primarily by traffic volumes, patterns and criticality. Of course, the heavily traveled arterials will rank higher than a much lower traffic volume residential street or alley. Streets that provide access to major commercial and industrial areas, transportation hubs such as train stations and airports, hospitals and fire stations, and schools may be ranked highly because of their criticality.

How are Levels of Service involved in snow and ice control?

Levels of Service are defined to help determine what resources will need to be allocated to meet the agency's winter maintenance goals. For instance, nearly all agencies will attempt to obtain bare pavement in every throughway and turn lane of major highway or arterial street within hours of a "typical" snowfall. For collector streets and minor arterials, the time period to obtain the same standard may be longer. Residential streets, alleys and limited service roads (such as in parks) may not be plowed at all unless the snow exceeds a certain threshold. Plowing may be minimal or just a track in the center. All jurisdictions -- towns, cities, counties, special road districts and tollway authorities, tribal, states, provinces, at risk of snow and ice should have a Winter Maintenance Policy or Operations Plan. This will address priorities, Levels of Service, tiered response strategies depending on type and intensity of storms, handling special emergency situations selection and use of materials, composition (type and number) of equipment fleet organizational structure and roles, staffing, training, communications and tracking, weather forecasts and current conditions reports, as well as documentation, risk management and public information. This includes declaring a snow emergency and enacting parking restrictions and vehicle requirements. It should also clearly state what it is not responsible for (sidewalks and private streets for example, and roads maintained by others). A sound Winter Operations Policy and Plan is the blueprint for providing this vital service in the most efficient, effective and equitable manner.

How do Public Works agencies prepare winter storm strategies and tactics?

The preparation for and commencement of snow and ice control operations, as well as overall practices and methods, is contingent upon varying conditions. For instance, the Snow Operations Manager will determine when to begin preparation for an anticipated storm based on contracted weather service reports. Weather is quite changeable as storms approach and Snow Managers often adjust their tentative plans. Still, most tend to take a proactive approach as considerable time is needed to have crews ready. Public Works personnel are notified when to report for duty and the public is typically informed of issues such as parking bans, road conditions, and cancellations through a variety of sources. When feasible, the public works crews will pre-treat bridges, overpasses and hills with salt brine or other materials prior to when the snowfall is expected. The types and application rates of the materials selected depends on several factors: present and forecasted pavement temperatures, wind direction and speed, type and amount of precipitation, current pavement conditions, priority classification, availability of materials and equipment and environmental considerations. Advances in material science and application technology have provided snow fighters with a more current and versatile "toolbox."

Public Works snow fighters -- including operators, dispatchers, mechanics, clerks and supervisors and auxiliary personnel from other divisions and departments -- work long hours in often hazardous conditions and severe weather to keep roads safe and streets safely passable for the public. No matter the duration of winter storms, whether shorter or longer, public works agencies are in essence partners with the public. Area citizens can work during the winter storms to help the public works crews by restricting trips to those that are truly necessary and allowing more time. Also, drivers can aid Public Works storm fighters by going slowly, and creating greater gaps between cars on snow and ice-covered roads.

For more information about public works and winter storm fighting, visit the American Public Works Association (APWA) website at www.apwa.net, or the 2014 North American Snow Conference - "The Show for Snow" website area at www.apwa.net/snow. Media are invited to inquire about role of public works and winter storm fighting by contacting Media Relations Manager Laura Bynum at [email protected], and may attend the 2014 Snow Conference during May 4-7 in Cincinnati, OH by registering with APWA Media Relations Manager, Laura Bynum at: [email protected].

The American Public Works Association (www.apwa.net) is a not-for-profit, international organization of more than 28,500 members involved in the field of public works. APWA serves its members by promoting professional excellence and public awareness through education, advocacy and the exchange of knowledge. APWA is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, has an office in Washington, D.C. and 63 chapters in North America. 

The following files are available for download:

More Stories By Marketwired .

Copyright © 2009 Marketwired. All rights reserved. All the news releases provided by Marketwired are copyrighted. Any forms of copying other than an individual user's personal reference without express written permission is prohibited. Further distribution of these materials is strictly forbidden, including but not limited to, posting, emailing, faxing, archiving in a public database, redistributing via a computer network or in a printed form.

Latest Stories
Providing the needed data for application development and testing is a huge headache for most organizations. The problems are often the same across companies - speed, quality, cost, and control. Provisioning data can take days or weeks, every time a refresh is required. Using dummy data leads to quality problems. Creating physical copies of large data sets and sending them to distributed teams of developers eats up expensive storage and bandwidth resources. And, all of these copies proliferating...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex softw...
The speed of software changes in growing and large scale rapid-paced DevOps environments presents a challenge for continuous testing. Many organizations struggle to get this right. Practices that work for small scale continuous testing may not be sufficient as the requirements grow. In his session at DevOps Summit, Marc Hornbeek, Sr. Solutions Architect of DevOps continuous test solutions at Spirent Communications, explained the best practices of continuous testing at high scale, which is rele...
DevOps tends to focus on the relationship between Dev and Ops, putting an emphasis on the ops and application infrastructure. But that’s changing with microservices architectures. In her session at DevOps Summit, Lori MacVittie, Evangelist for F5 Networks, will focus on how microservices are changing the underlying architectures needed to scale, secure and deliver applications based on highly distributed (micro) services and why that means an expansion into “the network” for DevOps.
In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Claude Remillard, Principal Program Manager in Developer Division at Microsoft, contrasted how his team used config as code and immutable patterns for continuous delivery of microservices and apps to the cloud. He showed how the immutable patterns helps developers do away with most of the complexity of config as code-enabling scenarios such as rollback, zero downtime upgrades with far greater simplicity. He also demoed building immutable pipelines in the cloud ...
Using new techniques of information modeling, indexing, and processing, new cloud-based systems can support cloud-based workloads previously not possible for high-throughput insurance, banking, and case-based applications. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, John Newton, CTO, Founder and Chairman of Alfresco, described how to scale cloud-based content management repositories to store, manage, and retrieve billions of documents and related information with fast and linear scalability. He addres...
Hardware virtualization and cloud computing allowed us to increase resource utilization and increase our flexibility to respond to business demand. Docker Containers are the next quantum leap - Are they?! Databases always represented an additional set of challenges unique to running workloads requiring a maximum of I/O, network, CPU resources combined with data locality.
Due of the rise of Hadoop, many enterprises are now deploying their first small clusters of 10 to 20 servers. At this small scale, the complexity of operating the cluster looks and feels like general data center servers. It is not until the clusters scale, as they inevitably do, when the pain caused by the exponential complexity becomes apparent. We've seen this problem occur time and time again. In his session at Big Data Expo, Greg Bruno, Vice President of Engineering and co-founder of StackIQ...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
Security, data privacy, reliability, and regulatory compliance are critical factors when evaluating whether to move business applications from in-house, client-hosted environments to a cloud platform. Quality assurance plays a vital role in ensuring that the appropriate level of risk assessment, verification, and validation takes place to ensure business continuity during the migration to a new cloud platform.
"Tintri was started in 2008 with the express purpose of building a storage appliance that is ideal for virtualized environments. We support a lot of different hypervisor platforms from VMware to OpenStack to Hyper-V," explained Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Containers have changed the mind of IT in DevOps. They enable developers to work with dev, test, stage and production environments identically. Containers provide the right abstraction for microservices and many cloud platforms have integrated them into deployment pipelines. DevOps and containers together help companies achieve their business goals faster and more effectively. In his session at DevOps Summit, Ruslan Synytsky, CEO and Co-founder of Jelastic, reviewed the current landscape of Dev...
One of the hottest areas in cloud right now is DRaaS and related offerings. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Dale Levesque, Disaster Recovery Product Manager with Windstream's Cloud and Data Center Marketing team, will discuss the benefits of the cloud model, which far outweigh the traditional approach, and how enterprises need to ensure that their needs are properly being met.
The security needs of IoT environments require a strong, proven approach to maintain security, trust and privacy in their ecosystem. Assurance and protection of device identity, secure data encryption and authentication are the key security challenges organizations are trying to address when integrating IoT devices. This holds true for IoT applications in a wide range of industries, for example, healthcare, consumer devices, and manufacturing. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lancen LaChance, vic...
Big Data, cloud, analytics, contextual information, wearable tech, sensors, mobility, and WebRTC: together, these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Erik Perotti, Senior Manager of New Ventures on Plantronics’ Innovation team, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it m...