After days of salt and sand treatment, the City of Garden City’s Public Works Department is hoping for warmer temperatures that may allow them to make more headway in the de-icing of local streets.

Following a significant storm on Dec. 27 that left Garden City under 6 inches of snow, as well as ice, city crews worked for three days to plow snow from major streets and parking lots, said Sam Curran, director of Public Works.

Crews plowed primary and secondary roads from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 27; then they plowed, applied salt and sand, and picked up piles of snow on Friday from midnight to 6 p.m., Curran said. On Saturday, crews picked up piles of snow downtown from midnight to 10 a.m.

Curran said the city initially had avoided residential areas since the narrower streets left little options on where to pile up plowed snow. Instead, he said, crews targeted primary and secondary roads and intersections.

Since Public Works does not own de-icing equipment, crews had largely depended on salting and sanding roads, which, due to consistent below freezing temperatures since the storm, have had a limited effect on ice patches, Curran said.

“This has been an unusual storm,” Curran said. “We haven’t had something that kept temperatures down this long.”

Local residents' feelings about the road conditions varied on Wednesday. Some residents were frustrated with the persisting patches of ice, especially on side roads. One couple said they lost a hubcap bouncing through uneven icy roads. One man, Lee Bell, slid on the ice and almost hit an oncoming truck when driving his wife to this hospital down a side street.

“It doesn’t look like they did anything really, so anything they do would be an improvement,” Bell said, referring to city crews.

Others said they felt the city was doing a good job, or at least the best that could be done considering the weather conditions.

“You can’t scrape ice, and Mother Nature hasn’t been very kind,” said Mike Allen, a Finney County resident who said he had no complaints with the city’s clean-up operations.

Issues surrounding the storm itself have caused some lasting effects, Curran said. Because the storm came in later than expected, snow had been packed down by roadway traffic and turned to ice before crews could tend to it. Rain that preceded the storm also left significant patches of ice, he said.

Some high-traffic areas, like the intersection of Third and Mary streets, were further impacted because they were constantly covered in shade from nearby trees, Curran said.

The shade issue was part of the reason Garden City, and many communities, still saw icy roads when surrounding highways are mostly cleared, he said. Unlike Kansas Department of Transportation crews, city crews can not plow directly on the pavement due to obstacles like manholes and water valves, leaving some ice, Curran said.

Frequent high traffic within communities compared to highways also meant snow was easily packed down and turned to ice, making it difficult to remove, Curran said.

The Garden City Police Department responded to 26 vehicle accidents from Dec. 26 to Wednesday, said Capt. Lana Urteaga, many of which she expected were weather-related.

Finney County Sheriff Kevin Bascue said the sheriff’s office responded to 13 weather-related accidents from Dec. 26 to 29, including slide-offs, fender benders and a rollover, and none in the days since. No injuries were reported, and none of the accidents took place on Garden City’s more prominent roads, he said.

Curran said he would like to devote more time to residential areas, intersections and busier, icy streets like Third and Center streets in the coming days, and warmer forecasts will allow crews to make more of an impact. Then, they will focus on clearing blocked drains so melted snow and ice have somewhere to go before refreezing at night, he said.

 

Contact Amber Friend at afriend@gctelegram.com.