The Ward 6 Office has been receiving several inquires about street sweeping being conducted in their community. During question period at Council on March 14th, I inquired about street sweeping as city crews seem to be sweeping streets when we would normally be clearing them of snow. “How long will spring street cleaning take and what are the budget implications of being able to commence street sweeping so early?”
As noted in the minutes, “Mac Logan, General Manager, Transportation, responded that the early launch of street sweeping was done in a very thoughtful manner. To date, the City has cleared over 3,000 kilometers which is approximately 21% of the road network, beginning with high-priority routes. General Manager Logan stated that the net benefit of early street sweeping includes a positive environmental impact. By sweeping up road debris now, it is kept out of storm sewers and ponds, and will not seep into the rivers with typical late spring storms. He added that the early cleanup work allows the Calgary Roads Department to keep their regular crews out on the streets, at no additional cost, doing work that is valued by the communities. A third benefit is that when the regular spring cleanup work begins on April 3, there will be cost savings realized from having to run fewer night shifts. General Manager Logan indicated that the spring street sweeping would be concluded faster than in recent years, barring any severe weather between now and April.”
The General Manager of Transportation followed up with the Ward 6 Office to provide some more detail around the process. He noted Roads have been working with Water Services to reduce the costs and environmental impact associated with sediment entering the City of Calgary’s storm water system. Materials from the road surface are washed into the storm catch basins and reach either a storm retention pond or the river. If this material can be cleared earlier in the spring prior to the early rain, less material will reach and fill up the storm retention ponds or be released to the Bow and Elbow river systems. Given the present long range forecasts, there does not appear to be any extended periods of sub -15 to -20 Celsius temperatures when Roads would again have to use sanding chips on the road surface.
With the exceptionally warm spring, Roads began planning to start Spring Clean-up earlier and reduce the time frame required to sweep the entire City. To meet these targets, Roads began to sweep major roadways, interchanges and ramps with existing staff and equipment to reduce the number of night shifts required to complete Spring Clean-up. Roads has always operated our fleet of 10 City-owned sweepers during warm weather in the winter to remove excess sanding chips but this year rather than picking up the heavy material, the operation is focused on sweeping the area clean.
At the end of February, Roads was $2 million favourable in the Snow and Ice Control program because of the unseasonably warm temperatures. The last sanding chips were spread on January 7, and as of March 11th, Roads has swept 3,055 lane kilometres of roadways, which represents 21.1% of the total program, and has picked up 5,170 cubic metres of material.
Road is presently working with our lease company to have the additional 21 sweepers required for Spring Clean-Up commissioned and ready to start the spring clean up on April 3. Roads Maintenance has also had graders in residential neighbourhoods clearing the ice from catch basins and, at the same time, this equipment has been moving ice from shaded locations to ensure that ice in the gutter will not hamper an early start to the Spring Clean-up program.
Please visit www.calgary.ca/sweep for full details and schedule for your street once the program begins April 3, 2016.
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