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DPW prepared to handle harsh winter weather

Date: 11/3/2008

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM The white stuff will soon be falling from the sky, and the Wilbraham Department of Public Works wants residents to know it is prepared for the worst.

"We're ready for anything Mother Nature throws at us," Edmond Miga, Director of the Department of Public Works (DPW) and Town Engineer, said. "We're always prepared ... We're in good shape to handle the worst."

Miga met with the Board of Selectmen on Oct. 27 to discuss what the DPW has done and is doing to prepare for winter weather. The salt shed is full, he noted, but at a much higher price than last year.

"We're very concerned about the price of salt," Miga told Reminder Publications. "We paid $88.80 a ton, and this time last year it was $63.30 a ton." He said the skyrocketing price was "alarming" and that the DPW will have to be very careful on how they use the product.

In addition to salting snowy and icy roads, Wilbraham trucks are able to distribute a liquid de-icer called Ice Ban Magic, an organic byproduct of the beer making process. Town trucks are equipped with tanks and spreading bars to distribute the de-icer, which is composed mainly of magnesium chloride, and Miga said the DPW often spreads the Ice Ban Magic before a storm on hills and near high traffic intersections to keep ice from forming.

"It's pretty effective," Miga said. "The magnesium chloride works at lower temperatures than salt does." The DPW also combines the de-icer with salt to create a "brine," which reduces the scatter of salt by itself.

As a safety precaution, residents are asked not to follow town trucks any closer than 300 feet.

The trucks have all been repaired and serviced for the winter season and Miga said the department is "ready to attack any event by the first week of October." The earliest recorded accumulation of snowfall in the town in recent history occurred Oct. 10, 1979; the latest, Dec. 22, 1959. The average date of the first accumulative snowfall is Nov. 25.

The snow plowing procedure for Wilbraham indicates that all main arterial and cross town connectors, as well as those with documented high volume traffic, will be maintained continuously throughout a storm event. All secondary roads will be cleared as their snow accumulation approaches three inches or when topography, physical conditions, ice or other safety concerns require immediate attention as determined by the Highway Superintendent, Frank Shea.

Twenty DPW personnel are certified to plow and treat 240 lane miles of roadway, creating a total of 11 organized routes. All private ways will be plowed last.

Additionally, the town will only plow sidewalks abutting main roads which are used by children going to schools. Sidewalks that will be plowed include Main Street from Fox Hill to Soule Road; Soule Road from Loring to Deepwood; Tinkham Road from Main to Rochford; and Stony Hill Road from the grammar school to Dipping Hole Road.

Residents are required to remove snow from sidewalks abutting streets within 24 hours after a snowfall.

To view the entire snow plowing policy, visit