The Calaveras County Department of Public Works appreciates the information that is provided to the driving public of Calaveras County by the Calaveras Enterprise; however, it is important that some discrepancies and inaccuracies are addressed and corrected from the story “Road Crews Map Plan of Attack against Snow” (Dec. 2) by Alex George.
In reference to the “$700,000 reduction to snow removal earmarks,” this statement is incorrect. The $730,000 that was retained by the Calaveras County General Fund as a function of the 2011-12 budget process was Vehicle License Fees (VLF). Historically a substantial portion of VLF revenue has been allocated to the Department of Public Works, Road Fund, and used for all types of maintenance projects throughout the county. Due to the loss of this funding it is imperative that the Road Department realign its operations to more efficiently and effectively utilize the existing funds to provide much-needed services, repairs and maintenance of the county’s road infrastructure throughout the entire year.
In past years the snow removal operations in the Ebbetts Pass and West Point areas were conducted with two 12-hour shifts. Each shift would staff anywhere from 10 to 20 plow, dump truck, grader and snow blower operators depending upon the severity of the weather event. In the story, George incorrectly indicates that in the past those areas “were monitored by two plows working 12-hour shifts.”
This year, Public Works is adjusting the scheduling to reduce the amount of overtime and reduce the number of extra-hire emergency snow-plow drivers that are needed. We will be operating three 8-hour shifts. Each shift will have about 15 to 18 staff members operating the necessary equipment to keep the roads accessible. The morning and day shifts will be predominately staffed by county work force and the overnight shift will be mainly extra-hire crews, directed by two county supervisorial staff. To provide the best overall benefit to local residents and the traveling public year-round, a concerted effort must be made to use our limited resources judiciously.
The snow removal fleet has 40 pieces of snow removal equipment located at the White Pines Maintenance yard, which includes:
4 – Motor graders with wing plow attachments.
3 – Loaders with wing plow attachments.
4 – Small snow blowers.
5 – Dump trucks with fixed plow blades.
4 – Dump trucks with fixed blades and sand spreaders attached.
20 – 4×4 pickups with plows attached.
Snow removal costs can and will vary from year to year. It is nearly impossible to predict what the weather might be in the high country. Snow removal costs in 2008-09 were $596,824 with the “out-of-pocket” cost to the county at $119,365. In 2010-11 snow removal costs were $1,251,682 with the county claiming $1,001,346 for reimbursement. The overall snow removal costs from 2008 to 2011 have averaged $851,000, with the county out-of-pocket average of $170,204 throughout that time.
The county assists safety personnel during storm events and emergency situations when needed and does not “dig out cars and homes.” It is the responsibility of the homeowner to clear berms from their driveways and to dig out vehicles that may be located in the county right of way.
In an attempt to assist the public in storm preparedness the Road Department is reaching out to the public to make them aware of ways that they can keep themselves safe. For instance, using tire chains as required, keeping vehicles out of the county right of way during snow removal operations, checking operation of windshield wipers, defroster, heater and exhaust systems prior to snow events. It is the Road Department’s mission to keep the roads safe for the public; however, we rely on the public to follow the rules of the road.
The statement that a visitor should bring “salt” when coming to the area is inaccurate. The road superintendent does not recommend that the public bring salt with them when coming to Calaveras County. The Road Department does not use salt in its snow removal operations. On some roads there are sanding operations. The roads designated for sanding operations include school bus routes and major thoroughfares. Sand is not a substitute for chains and does not guarantee tire traction.
In the last paragraph of George’s story, it is unclear what “punch roads up a little” means. The correct statement would be to “punch open the road, clearing it for traffic to pass through.”
Scott Anderson is Calaveras County’s road superintendent. Contact him at sanderson@-co.calaveras.ca.us.
Editor’s note: The Enter-prise regrets the errors and appreciates Scott Anderson setting the record straight.
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