Preparation for the winter season has begun for the city of South Lake Tahoe’s Public Works Department snowplowing crews.
Public Works Assistant Director Jim Marino said training new hires, route planning and maintenance on the snowplows are underway.
Marino said the city is training new employees a little earlier this year to ensure they have operators ready before the season.
“We’ll hopefully be will be well prepared for winter this year,” Marino said. “Every year it’s a little harder to hire seasonal folks.”
City of South Lake Tahoe streets division manager Azril Kalik has been in his position since January and spent two years as acting (or interim) streets manager, and he said operations have not changed much since last year.
Eleven part-time operators budgeted to be hired this year, some new and some returning, with eight full-time operators, Kalik said.
Marnio said the city plans to have the new employees’ six-week training done by Nov. 1.
Eight frontline machines and four backup grader snowplows make up the inventory of all snowplows in the department’s fleet, in addition to some snowblowers for tight projects. There also is a sander that helps break down the initial base of snowfall.
As soon as it snows, the city sends out a sanding unit to take care of the initial fall on the roads. For emergency situations, snowplows are on priority to plow main ambulance, police and fire routes.
Public Works Director Raymond Jarvis said the goal is to have the entire city’s roads plowed and passable within about a 12-hour period.
“In my mind, one of the biggest challenges is people leaving their cars on the roadways,” Jarvis said. “That or we have to get a tow truck or anything that creates and obstacle or slows down the operation.”
Moving obstacles out of the way of snow plowing also can help reduce the size of the berms that get in the way of driveways.
“There’s no avoiding a berm,” Kalik said. “Some thing is keeping the trash cans out of the streets. As long as it’s in your driveway, (trash collection) will pick it up.”
Jarvis said he tries to move as much snow out of the areas near his driveway and property line so the berms don’t build up.
Additional preparation for the snow season includes maintenance of infrastructure systems and removing any obstructions, so the snowplows can get through easily.
“Essentially this time of year, they go out and cleans the system and vacuum inside the infrastructure and drainage basins,” Marino said. “That way we’ll be ready for the storms.”