ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — As winter quickly approaches, Rockford city leaders said state of the art trucks and skilled employees are vital for combatting the season in the Midwest.
Rockford’s Public Works Department starts preparing for snow cleanup in the summer, and city leaders said many people do not realize just how much manpower is required during a snowstorm.
“We take snow and ice very seriously. It’s a very difficult operation,” said Mitch Leatherby, Street & Transportation Superintendent for the City of Rockford.
After adding five new plows to their fleet, City of Rockford Public Works officials said they are prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at them.
“We’re here now, we know that the snow is coming eventually at some point. We’re ready for it, we’ve been spending the summer getting ready,” Leatherby said. “Our staff, anywhere from our employees that are standing behind us, to technicians in central garage, to administrative employees behind the scenes to make this happen. To get ready for the next year, it starts from day one after the season.”
Leatherby said snow removal is a large-scale operation, which often takes dozens of employees, working day and night, to clear city streets.
The average snow storm costs the city about a quarter of a million dollars.
“Anytime we deploy our crews, our fleet, there’s approximately 30 employees involved. If we’re working an operation that goes beyond 12 hours, another 30 people come in to help relieve that first group,” Leatherby said. “So, at any given time in a large snowfall event, there could be sixty employees involved.”
Despite seasonal staffing issues at the Illinois Department of Transportation, the city has been able to find enough qualified employees to operate Rockford snow plows, according to Leatherby.
“We haven’t necessarily seen a shortage,” Leatherby said. “Our routes are filled for the year, our planning that we typically go through on a pre-season checklist type basis is done at this point.”
The city is also keeping a steady stock of salt to apply to the roads in case of ice.
“Right now, we’re holding about 10,000 tons of salt,” said Kyle Saunder, Director of Rockford’s Public Works Department. “In any given year, we’re going to go through 15 to 20 tons of salt, depending on how bad the winter is.”
Rockford leaders encouraged residents to download the text alert system for city snow emergencies.