Wausau Public Works Stays Busy During First Snowstorm

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

While most of us were sleeping, the Wausau Public Works Department was up, making sure city streets were cleared by the time we woke up.

Sunday night's snowfall was the first storm of the season, giving snow plow drivers a chance to test out their rigs.

"We have a method of approach which is getting the hilly streets first, trying to get those done especially the priorities on those and the priorities are going to be dictated by the amount of traffic," Don Skare, the department's superintendent said.

Each of the 22 routes has priority streets that are cleared first after a snowfall.

But the city makes sure each street is within three blocks of a priority street. That way, if your street hasn't yet been cleared, you're not far from one that has.

All 32 snow plow trucks hit the road after 11 p.m. Sunday, and continued to work until every Wausau street was plowed and sanded.

Plow operators say it's not easy navigating the huge trucks, and Skare says every year one thing in particular gets in the way.

"We do hit mailboxes and it's not too often but we do hit them once in awhile and one thing I ask people to do is make sure their mailbox is strong enough to get a little snow," Skare said.

If the mailbox is damaged from snow only, the city isn't responsible. However, if a driver hits someone's mailbox, the city will provide $25 for repairs or replacement.

Sometimes property owners complain of getting plowed in, but Skare says most of the time there isn't anything the city can do about it. In some cases, they will check it out if and it's a large amount of snow that outweighs what neighbors have, they may remove it.

While it's the city's responsibility to clear the streets, it's citizens' responsibility to clear sidewalks around their property.

Skare says each year public works clears sidewalks for about 100 property owners who refuse to do it on their own.

After a complaint, property owners will be given a 48 hour warning to remove the snow. If they don't in that timeframe, public works will come out and do it for them at a minimum cost of $85.

Citizens have 24 hours to remove snow from their sidewalks after a snowfall. Most municipalities have similar ordinances.

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