FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Taking care of the 275 miles of roads in Fairfield is difficult on a normal day. But when snow falls with temperatures colder than 20 degrees, keeping them clean can difficult.
In most snow circumstances, the Department of Public Works in Fairfield puts down salt to lower the melting temperature of the snow so the roads can be cleared faster.
“Below 16, 18, 20 degrees there are other products that further reduce the temperature,” Public Works Director Joe Michelangelo said.
The salt has been treated with either calcium chloride or magnesium chloride, which is something the department always keeps on hand but saves for severely low temperatures, Michelangelo said. About 80 percent of the salt the department has is regular, untreated salt.
For snowstorms such as the one the National Weather Service is predicting for Tuesday night, the DPW divides the town roads into 27 routes for each of its trucks. The average truck has 10 road miles, which gets doubled for the lanes.
All the DPW workers are at work Tuesday, Michelangelo said, and will be clearing the roads as needed through the storm. In addition to the town workers, DPW contracts with several outside companies to assist in cleaning many of the parking lots owned by the town, schools and train stations.
After the storm ends, the 27 trucks will generally go back out onto the roads and clear away intersections and cul de sacs with an additional 27 contracted trucks to help remove the snow piles.
With the added costs of the contractors, keeping the department’s budget in check can be a concern, Michelangelo said.
“Thus far, even though it hasn’t been a horrible winter. We’ve had two storms that ate into our budget, so it’s a concern,” he said. “We try to keep the costs reasonable.”
The town calculates the snow removal budget by the average amount of snow, he said. Anything more significant can eat into the town’s contingency money.