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
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...
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
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.
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"A lot of times people will come to us and have a very diverse set of requirements or very customized need and we'll help them to implement it in a fashion that you can't just buy off of the shelf," explained Nick Rose, CTO of Enzu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
As software becomes more and more complex, we, as software developers, have been splitting up our code into smaller and smaller components. This is also true for the environment in which we run our code: going from bare metal, to VMs to the modern-day Cloud Native world of containers, schedulers and micro services. While we have figured out how to run containerized applications in the cloud using schedulers, we've yet to come up with a good solution to bridge the gap between getting your contain...
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
"We host and fully manage cloud data services, whether we store, the data, move the data, or run analytics on the data," stated Kamal Shannak, Senior Development Manager, Cloud Data Services, IBM, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Who are you? How do you introduce yourself? Do you use a name, or do you greet a friend by the last four digits of his social security number? Assuming you don’t, why are we content to associate our identity with 10 random digits assigned by our phone company? Identity is an issue that affects everyone, but as individuals we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ben Klang, Founder & President of Mojo Lingo, discussed the impact of technology on identity. Sho...
Information technology (IT) advances are transforming the way we innovate in business, thereby disrupting the old guard and their predictable status-quo. It’s creating global market turbulence. Industries are converging, and new opportunities and threats are emerging, like never before. So, how are savvy chief information officers (CIOs) leading this transition? Back in 2015, the IBM Institute for Business Value conducted a market study that included the findings from over 1,800 CIO interviews ...
"Operations is sort of the maturation of cloud utilization and the move to the cloud," explained Steve Anderson, Product Manager for BMC’s Cloud Lifecycle Management, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
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...
"I think that everyone recognizes that for IoT to really realize its full potential and value that it is about creating ecosystems and marketplaces and that no single vendor is able to support what is required," explained Esmeralda Swartz, VP, Marketing Enterprise and Cloud at Ericsson, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new da...
"We got started as search consultants. On the services side of the business we have help organizations save time and save money when they hit issues that everyone more or less hits when their data grows," noted Otis Gospodnetić, Founder of Sematext, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.