City braced for storm, budget hit
The salt was being loaded, the snowplow drivers were getting their pre-storm rest, and city employees were bracing for the impending blizzard on Monday afternoon at the Department of Public Works and Highway Transportation facilities on Phenix Avenue.
Mayor Allan Fung said that the latest storm would cost the city “at least” $150,000, adding onto the cost of last week’s storm that had already pushed Cranston past the $700,000 budgeted for storm costs.
He said that the costs involved in a storm include overtime for city employees, the use of outside vendors to plow and clean the city, and ordering additional materials, such as the salt and sand piles housed at the DPW facilities.
“No matter the cost, we’ll make it up in other areas in the budget,” he said. “We’ve dealt with overages in the snow budget before. We’re prepared as a city, and we want them [the workers] to be prepared as well.”
Highway Superintendent John Corso said that this storm puts the city near the end of its salt pile, but he didn’t expect this storm to finish it completely. He also said that they have dirt that could be mixed in to create more salt if need be.
Corso said that they’ve had to put down extra material this year because there were a lot of small storms, “like 1 inch all day,” which is not enough to plow but salt and sand still need to be laid down on the streets to keep them safe.
He said that the plan for Tuesday’s storm was to start treating the roads with salt/sand around midnight, when his workers get in for the storm, then go into a “full-blown plowing operation” sometime in the middle of the night, which would last until the storm neared its end Tuesday night, when they would treat the roads once again.
Corso said that the last couple weeks have been especially draining because there was plenty of cleanup of trees and branches, from the windy storm two weekends ago, and there was also the “wet snow” from the small storm last week. He said that about 90% of the trees from last week’s storm had been all cleaned up by Monday afternoon, and the rest would be dealt with after the snowstorm.
Mayor Fung said about that storm that there was a “good channel of water flow going into drains” because of the heavy downpours and wet snow, which DPW had to deal with.
“The last ten days have been tough on the department, the whole city,” Corso said. “Between the trees, the wet snow, and this storm, the guys are working very hard. They’re tired, but they’re here and working hard.”
He added that the workers, despite a straining past couple weeks, were “ready to go.”
“They’ve got some rest,” he said. “They’re good workers.”
He said that the biggest challenge for the storm was “jumping on it” during the night and making sure the road was treated well before the serious plowing begins.
He added that the snow hitting overnight, and the expectation that most daily activities would be cancelled, would help the department because the roads would be relatively free and clear.
Corso was optimistic that this blizzard might be one of the last major storms they’ll have to deal with, however, saying that he thinks this is “the last hoorah.”
“A lot of the guys have had overtime, long hours, it’s definitely taking a toll on them,” Mayor Fung said. “They’re ready for spring and summer to come, just like I am and the rest of Rhode Island is.”