Winter Storms Create Costly Challenge

Release Date: 
01/26/2017

City Crews have been kept busy in Hermiston this winter as a result of the unusually snowy weather this year.  So far for this winter, the costs of keeping the streets open in Eastern Oregon’s largest city have topped $50,000, just for operational costs.  From December 16 through January 26, costs associated with clearing snow and ice have totaled:

  • Regular & Overtime Labor (782 man hours):                         $32,844
  • Equipment Repairs (broken plow blade):                               $6,000
  • Rock (410 cubic yards):                                                          $7,979
  • De-Icer (3,400 gallons):                                                          $3,400
  • Total (not including fuel or equipment acquisition)                $50,223

“Clearing snow from 180 miles worth of city streets takes a lot of time and resources,” said Ron Sivey, Street Superintendent.  “We do everything we can to clear streets as fast as possible with the equipment and personnel available to us.”

Hermiston’s Snow & Ice Removal Program follows a tiered approach, which prioritizes main thoroughfares, and flexibly re-allocates resources based on changing weather conditions.  City Crews go in to “Phase 1” Snow & Ice Removal when snow begins to fall, and the storm event is predicted to have an accumulation of 2” or more.  Depending on conditions, Crews work their way through Phase 1 and then on to Phase 2, and finally Phase 3.  However, if significant snow continues to fall, or conditions worsen, crews will either stay on, or revert back to, Phase 1.

Phases

Phase 1-  The #1 goal during this time is to clear and maintain the main traffic routes through the City.

Phase 2-  After the main routes are clear, and if accumulation has stopped, crews move into the hill routes and down town commercial areas.  Crews continue to monitor the phase one routes to keep them in the best condition possible.  During this time city personnel are also deployed to clear municipal buildings, the airport, and during the late night or early morning to public parking lots.

Phase 3-  Crews move into the residential areas.  Personnel and equipment are dispatched to different locations and all work in a counterclockwise rotation throughout the neighborhoods.

Re-Allocation of Resources & Emergencies

If another storm event begins to put down new snow accumulations while crews are in Phases 2 or 3, they will be re-allocated to Phase 1 routes.  Crews may also be pulled away to respond to emergencies such as water line breaks in roadways, motor vehicle collisions, and fires.

Information about the City’s Snow and Ice Removal Program, as well as a list of Frequently Asked Questions, is available HERE