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Wichita to pick up the pace on removing sand from streets

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, May 16, 2014, at 8:36 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, July 15, 2014, at 6:15 p.m.

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Tired of sand lingering on Wichita’s streets? So are city officials.

Starting at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, city crews will ramp up their efforts to remove what remains of the 7,000 tons of sand used to treat streets last winter, Public Works and Utilities Director Alan King said Friday.

Crews will operate all six of the city’s sweepers in 12-hour shifts around the clock through 7:30 p.m. each Saturday. They will take a 24-hour break, then resume again Sunday night until all the sand is gone, King said.

Increasing the pace means all of the sand will be cleared by early June, about two weeks earlier than if the current pace was maintained, King said.

Not only does that make it safer for drivers and bicyclists, King said, but it also prevents rain from washing sand into the storm-water system and clogging it up.

“We’re anticipating getting some rains,” King said, “and I’m concerned about the sand going into the storm-water system. I decided we need to shave off some time.”

Shortly after the last winter storm hit in February, the city operated the sweepers in two eight-hour shifts to remove the sand.

“Two weeks into it I could see we weren’t making enough progress,” King said, “so we went to three eight-hour shifts.”

But the city only has 12 people for sweepers, so that didn’t maximize the use of the equipment. It does by going to 12-hour shifts around the clock, six days a week.

All the sand has been removed from the driving lanes, King said, but sand remains in the gutters.

“We’re going back now and picking that up,” he said. “We should do a pretty good job of getting it all.”

The expanded effort is expected to cost $46,000 in overtime, including for shop maintenance workers.

“Street sweepers traditionally have maintenance problems,” King said, “so we anticipate the shop crews will be working overtime, too.”

Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or rplumlee@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rickplumlee.

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