Wichita street crews to work through weekend clearing snow

02/22/2013 11:04 AM

02/22/2013 11:04 AM

Wichita snow-removal crews will work around the clock through the weekend to get streets ready for schools that could be open Monday, a city official said Friday morning.

So far, crews have taken more than 500 dump-truck loads of snow from the downtown and Delano areas to a pile near Second and McLean, said Joe Pajor, deputy director of public works and utilities. There is not enough room in the downtown area to store that amount of snow without taking up parking spaces and hampering traffic flow, Pajor said.

In a briefing for news media, he gave this status report: Street crews made significant progress overnight. Arterial streets remain slick in places; some streets still need to be treated with sand and salt. Pajor urged motorists to continue to drive at slower speeds, increase following distances and avoid braking when possible. Residential streets remain snow-packed, but travel over them has improved driving conditions.

Pajor reminded residents that an ordinance requires them to keep public sidewalks clear of snow and ice in front of their homes or abutting their homes for pedestrians’ safety. Otherwise, residents could face a fine or could face liability, Pajor said.

Pajor thanked city workers for their hard work in clearing streets of what was the second-largest snowfall in the city’s recorded history.

Crews focus on emergency routes and arterial streets first, then secondary streets and school routes, Pajor said. Residential streets, except those near schools, are not cleared because doing so would block driveways and parked cars, Pajor said.

Crews could face more snow Monday, but so far the forecast doesn’t call for as much as fell this week, Pajor said.

Officials will be deciding whether to continue using private contractors Friday night to supplement city crews.

The city is re-ordering salt and sand for street treatment, and although supplies are low, the city doesn’t expect to run out, Pajor said.

Police Lt. Doug Nolte said very few accidents were reported overnight. It appeared that the public heeded warnings and avoided travel on treacherous streets. “Wichitans were prepared,” he said.

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