Mayor explains snow removal priority schedule

(Posted Jan. 23, 2019)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Twice this month, Mother Nature has dumped multiple inches of snow on the city of London in short periods of time. Mayor Pat Closser said the Street Department has done its best to respond.

“We have been contacted from citizens curious about snow removal,” Closser said at the Jan. 17 city council meeting.

The weekend prior, eight inches of snow fell in London. Another five to six inches of snow fell the weekend of Jan. 19.

Closser explained that the Street Department has four employees. When plowing snow, the department has two trucks on the road at a time, working 12-hour shifts. Sometimes, Bill Long, department superintendent, will operate a third truck.

The city plows roads in order of priority, starting with the main roads and state routes, like Main, Elm and High streets. Then, crews move on to roads that connect two main roads, like Park and Garfield avenues. Next up are residential streets that have passage to other streets and connectors. Finally, the crews hit residential streets with deadends and no passage to other streets.

“Major roads like Main and High look a lot more clear because of their place on the priority list and because they get a lot more traffic than residential roads,” Closser said. “The traffic makes it easier to plow because it heats the road up and the snow is worn down from heavier traffic.

“On roads that do not get a lot of traffic, it is a lot harder to get down to pavement. Sometimes by the time we are able to get to the residential roads, people have driven on them and packed it down, making it harder to plow.”

During the first major snow event2, the Street Department crews worked from 6 a.m. Jan. 12 to 6 p.m. Jan. 13, logging 1,300 miles. They then went back out the following week for more cleanup.

“I ask that citizens be patient and understand that we have a lot of roads to get to, but the guys are out there working hard,” Closser said.

He asked that residents park their cars in their driveways during heavy snows so that city trucks can plow to the curbs. He also asked residents who live on snow emergency routes, such as Main Street, to move their cars elsewhere to make plowing easier.

“These little things really help our guys out,” Closser said.

Fire and EMS

London resident Michael Norman asked council about the possibility of a city fire and emergency medical services (EMS) station on the south side of the railroad tracks that transect the city.

Council member Rex Castle said county authorities are still figuring out what assets the city will get from the Madison County Emergency Medical District (EMD), from which the city split last year. Castle said it is still possible the London Fire & EMS Department will get the EMD’s station on East Center Street.

Closser reported that on Jan. 17, the Fire & EMS Department surpassed the mark of 100 runs. The new EMS became operational on Jan. 1. Council member Andrew Hitt noted that some of the runs included transports out of town to other hospitals.

“The new department is doing a great job, and I have heard nothing but praise about our medics, service and department,” Closser said. “An employee at Madison Health’s ER said that the quality of care is great and nothing has really changed from the past service except for the personnel.”

Closser also took a moment to congratulate Jim Penix on his retirement. Penix worked for the London Fire Department for 39 years.

“We can’t thank him enough for everything he’s done for the citizens and keeping them safe,” Closser said.

Trash Changes

The London Board of Public Utilities (BPU) continues to look into possible changes to the city’s trash pick-up system. BPU member Steve Scaggs said the board will meet several times to discuss the pros and cons of keeping trash services in-house versus contracting them out to a private service provider.

The board is sending out requests for proposals from private providers. The board also is looking at what changes it might make to its own system, should the city keep the services in-house.

The city’s sanitation department was more than $100,000 over budget last year. Scaggs and city council President Joe Russell said the city will need to raise trash pick-up rates no matter what changes are made to the system.

“We’ve ignored that department for too long,” Scaggs said.

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