Snowplow spot-check: We reviewed 10 communities to see how quickly residential streets were cleared

Review of 10 local areas shows successes, challenges that road crews face

Major snowstorms make plowing streets a challenge, but last weekend’s storm revealed major differences among local communities on how clear some residential streets were after the storm.

The Dayton Daily News spot-checked residential street plowing in 10 communities from 11 am to 1 pm Monday — about 24 hours after the weekend’s 9-inch snowfall stopped.

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While not a comprehensive review, the spot-check showed many residential streets to be mostly clear in Centerville, Washington Twp., Huber Heights, Oakwood, Butler Twp. and Harrison Twp. The Beavercreek neighborhood checked had some snow remaining but was in fairly good condition.

But many residential streets in Dayton, Kettering and Riverside either had significant compacted ice remaining after being plowed, or hadn’t been plowed at all.

Arcadia Boulevard, directly off Woodman Drive in Riverside, was in fair shape, with a mix of snow and clear pavement in the middle, but Bernwald Lane, the first street off Arcadia, had a coating of ice in the middle, and deep snow covering the curbside parking areas.

“We try to get through and get as much plowed up as we can on a 9-inch storm, within 24-36 hours,” said city of Riverside director of public service Kathy Bartlett. “We only have five trucks and 10 guys. We have five guys come in and work 12 hours, then our next set of five guys come in for 12 hours. That limits us a little bit.”

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Every community the Daily News checked had cleared their main roads well by noon Monday. The issue was with residential streets, where some residents struggled to get out of their neighborhoods safely.

Credit: Jeremy P. Kelley

Credit: Jeremy P. Kelley

Kettering policy says as long as snow is falling, the city focuses only on 16 primary “routes” that include major streets, hills, curves, bus routes and more. The policy says side streets will be addressed after snow has stopped.

On Monday in Kettering, residential streets that were part of those primary routes were clear, such as Vale Drive and its small side streets in East Kettering. But scores of other Kettering residential streets, such as Claybourne, Chateau and Brydon, still had solid sheets of ice on them because people drove over the snow all Saturday and Sunday, compacting it into ice before city plows got there.

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Kettering spokeswoman Stacy Schweikhart said the city has changed snow operations in recent years “in an effort to improve service and reduce the time it takes to get to all of our roads,” but she did not immediately give details. She encouraged residents to call the city with concerns.

Schweikhart said Kettering also responds to social media questions on official city accounts during storms.

Social media reaction around the region was mixed. Some residents thanked their cities for clear roads and hard work around the clock by snow removal crews. Others were frustrated that residential streets were sloppy, or that they had shoveled their driveways only to have them buried again by snowplows.

Huber Heights Public Works Manager Mike Gray said the city has recently added personnel, making response to this storm more effective. Our review of a neighborhood near Brandt and Powell found most residential streets fairly clear, with only parking issues from snow being plowed to the curb.

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“It goes back to having the personnel to be able to get to it and a timing issue of when you’re able to get a first application,” Gray said. “Something we haven’t done in the past, we pre-treated almost every street in the city except cul-de-sacs. That helps avoid the compaction.”

Residential roads that the Daily News checked in Washington, Butler and Harrison townships were generally clear. Townships have one advantage over cities in that certain main roads are plowed by county officials, allowing local crews time to work on smaller streets.

The city of Dayton plows a huge number of roads, from arteries like Salem and Smithville, to U.S. 35 and Ohio 4, according to Deputy Director of Public Works Tom Ritchie Jr. That makes it a challenge to do residential streets, which are only plowed when 4 or more inches of snow falls.

When the Daily News checked side streets off Watervliet Avenue on Monday, such as Springmont and Russell, they had both rutted, thick ice in the middle and deep snow along curbs.

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“You have to get through the storm and make sure you maintain main roads before you can go into the residentials — you don’t get any residentials until late,” Ritchie said, adding that some streets are narrow enough to require a smaller, less effective snow plow.

He said Dayton actually decided not to plow and salt more residential roads Monday out of concern that plowing and salting would cause a brief melt that would then refreeze overnight into a more dangerous sheer ice. Ritchie asked for residents to move cars off the street whenever possible during snow storms, and to be patient.

“We appreciate people being patient with us,” he said. “When they send positive comments, we relay those to the crews and drivers. They get frustrated too when you’re in a storm just driving back and forth over the same thing trying to keep it cleared off.”

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