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Excellence in Snow and Ice Control Award

APWA's Excellence in Snow and Ice Control Award was established to promote excellence in the management and administration of public works snow and ice operations, and to promote the best practices in snow and ice removal while minimizing environmental impacts. The award is presented annually at the North American Snow Conference. Following are this year's recipients.

City of Chicago, Department of Streets and Sanitation
Chicago, Illinois

The City of Chicago, Department of Streets and Sanitation (CDSS), Bureau of Street Operations is in charge of keeping Chicago's streets free of ice and snow during inclement winter weather. Radar and a variety of professional weather services are referenced to anticipate the approach of snow or freezing rain. When such weather nears Chicago, the City dispatches its fleet of salt spreaders/plows to the main arterial streets (which are divided into 261 routes) followed by the secondary, residential streets.

Snow removal is directed from a new state-of-the-art command facility equipped with the latest communications, video, mapping, and weather monitoring capabilities. This central location houses multiple departments and has multiple control centers arranged in an open, bullpen setting optimized for information flow from electronic input, radio and telecommunications, and face-to-face interaction.

During major snowstorms, CDSS also has the capacity to equip several hundred garbage trucks with "quick-hitch" plows to supplement the salt truck fleet. In addition, heavy equipment and labor are available from other municipal departments and the private sector for snow clearance during and after a full-fledged blizzard.

City of Winnipeg Public Works Department
Winnipeg, Manitoba

The City of Winnipeg currently operates two state-of-the-art treated sand/salt storage areas with a third site soon to be constructed. The facilities each store approximately 15,000 tonnes of treated sand and an additional 3,000 tonnes of salt. The facilities are designed to be environmentally friendly in that all stockpiling of materials and loading of sandspreaders are done indoors within the facilities.

The Public Works Department has successfully adopted anti-icing technology which is currently used on all bridges/overpasses within Winnipeg. Anti-icing experiments are ongoing on the arterial and collector street systems to monitor the advantages of this program for snow removal and ice control on these street types.

An innovation introduced by the Department within the current winter season is a computerized Equipment Scheduler. The scheduler tracks all privately-owned equipment as to current status, i.e., the scheduler will indicate if equipment is employed within another branch and for what anticipated duration. Any changes to the status of hired contract equipment are updated instantly. This innovation makes the recruitment of hired equipment much simpler and quicker without multiple calls to equipment suppliers who may not be available.

Shingle Creek Watershed Commission
Plymouth, Minnesota

The road authorities in the Shingle Creek watershed teamed with the Shingle Creek Watershed Commission and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to prepare a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) study that requires a 71 percent reduction in chloride use in the watershed. To accomplish this daunting goal, this partnership developed an innovative Implementation Plan to reduce chloride (much of which comes from road salt) in Shingle Creek.

The Shingle Creek Chloride TMDL was the first of its kind in Minnesota, and serves as a model not only for the Twin Cities Metro area, but also the entire Snow Belt, illustrating how public works professionals in different jurisdictions can work together in partnership to achieve environmental protection and improvement without compromise to public safety and level of service.

The Commission received a $238,000 state grant to assist five of the partners with implementing pre-wetting technology. Pre-wetting is spraying the salt with brine prior to application to make the salt crystals "sticky." This reduces the volume of salt lost to bounce or rolling off the road surface, meaning less salt can be applied. The grant allowed Hennepin County to purchase and install 13 pre-wetting kits on trucks used on County roads in the Shingle Creek watershed, and a storage tank in 2007.

North Texas Tollway Authority
Plano, Texas

As a toll authority and major regional transportation provider, the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) has a commitment to provide mobility during any weather condition, even the rare snow and ice events of the region.

In 2001, NTTA developed its first Snow and Ice Mitigation Plan for all of its facilities and the plan is refined each year. The backbone of the plan is the maximization of the amount of time sanding trucks are on the roadways spreading sand. This requires planning and establishment of efficient sanding routes; having an adequate number of sand stockpiles; having an adequate number of sanding trucks and spreaders; using dual-wheel pickups with small spreaders for supervisors to oversee the operations but also to respond "nimbly" to trouble spots; and assuring availability of loader operators continuously at all stockpiles.

NTTA has implemented special measures to enable typical storage sites to protect themselves from the elements such as freezing rain. These sites have sufficient capacity to store enough material to mitigate two three-day events and have relatively easy and safe access to the roadway.

Westchester County Department of Public Works
White Plains, New York

In 2007, Westchester County Department of Public Works (DPW) installed a salt brine-making facility at the Lake Street garage with the intention to reduce salt consumption by 30%. The facility consists of one 1,500-gallon mixing tank, one 1,500-gallon settling tank, and a 5,000-gallon storage tank. A separate 5,000-gallon storage tank was installed at the roads and grounds garage at Valhalla Campus. With the brine-making facility, DPW has the capability of producing 1,500 gallons of salt brine in about 20 minutes.

A 10-wheel dump truck with an interchangeable body was purchased for the Lake Street garage. This enables one truck to have two different uses as the dump body can be removed for the installation of the stainless steel tanker body for salt brine application. The tanker has the capability of holding 3,100 gallons which allows for all of the Bronx River Parkway and its ramps to have brine applied.

Each year, prior to snow season, all staff members involved with snow removal attend an in-house snow meeting. Topics include plow routes, salt application rates, any variation in typical plowing methods, safety, and snow removal policy and procedures. Staff members are sent to as many snow control seminars as possible.