With the exception of floppy disks, there are few things
that actually cost less now than they did ten years ago. It’s even rarer when
it comes to city services but that’s exactly what is happening in Idaho Falls
with their street department.
Less than 24 hours after a snow shower, freezing rain,
another layer of snow and even more freezing rain hit downtown Idaho Falls, the
streets were clear again.
“There is extreme pride in our department,” said Paul
Hathaway, Street Superintendent for the City of Idaho Falls.
This pride is why the main roads in the city are usually cleared
of snow so quickly. In many cases, plows aren’t even called out. That’s because
about 6 years ago the city made a big change.
“We were looking at ways to put a pretreater on the road and
we were looking at different ways to do it and we discovered that the cost was
pretty high,” said Hathaway.
Rather than giving up, the street department made some calls
to neighboring states to see what they were doing. Using scrap parts and some creative
engineering, the city was able build their own unit at a fraction of the cost.
“It was very affordable,” said Hathaway. “Most things cost a
couple of hundred thousand; we actually did ours under $1,000.”
That’s not the only way the city saves money on clearing the
streets. It might surprise you but their role ends with the pretreating. If
plows are warranted, it goes out to bid.
“It’s a huge cost savings because on that bid they provide
the vehicle, they provide the fuel, they provide the worker and their insurance
and everything of that sort; to where it’s a cost savings for us so we don’t
have the burden year round of that equipment or the services of the employee,”
It costs the city less than $100 to apply the brine mix to
their main routes. The mix lasts about a week and can melt up to two inches of
snow and ice.
There really isn’t anything they can do to prevent potholes
but if you see one, Paul says if you let them know, they will have it fixed
within 24 hours.