Public Works Prepared For Winter Weather

Public Works prepared for winter weather
Posted on 11/18/2020
Public Works Dump Truck

City of Renton SealNov. 20, 2020

Originally published in Mayor Armondo Pavone's November 13 Newsletter


Photo of a Public Works dump truck

Public Works prepared for winter weather

With fall upon us and winter just weeks away, we’ve all spent time preparing our homes and vehicles for the impending change in weather.

Imagine the preparation involved if you were in charge of maintaining 15 vehicles and over 750 lane miles of roadway?

In Renton that task falls to Street Maintenance Manager Patrick Zellner and Street Maintenance Supervisor John Kalmbach. This is what they have to say as they plan the city's response when snow or ice hit.

“Our goal is to take care of our residents in the best, most professional way possible,” says Kalmbach. “Our crews do it with pride, commitment, and dedication.”

In October, city crews complete their winter operations planning and preparation and are ready for whatever Mother Nature has in store. They outfit dump and flatbed trucks with plows, de-icer/anti-icer tanks, and sanders. Renton is divided into five two-driver regions, and each region has assigned routes. Drivers do not vary from their designated priority routes, except in situations of life safety.

"The plow drivers work 12 hours on, 12 hours off once snow hits to keep our roads clear," said Zellner. "I am very proud of the work our crew performs in keeping our streets as safe as possible."

The division also introduced new ideas into their operations. One was implementing four over-lapping and staggered shifts to ensure plow trucks are always on the road during commute hours. Another is using their overnight sweeper driver as their “eyes” to alert them when a threatening weather system is identified. "When we bring the drivers in, they grab their gear, jump in their trucks, and their training takes over," said Kalmbach. 

How can you help?

  • Keep your fuel tank at least three-quarters full.

  • Check your tires and put chains in vehicle.

  • Check windshield wipers and fluid levels.

  • Carry a blanket, spare clothes, water and snacks.

“Conditions change quickly,” says Zellner. “If you get stuck, you'll never know how long until help arrives." He asks that trips only are made when necessary, and if you have to leave your vehicle, please do your best to keep it from blocking traffic lanes and stay with your vehicle.

“Nothing slows down our snowplows or emergency response vehicles more than abandoned vehicles blocking lanes of travel,” he adds. "Please be patient and treat our plows like you would an emergency vehicle. It makes their jobs so much easier."

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