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Wed, Aug. 21

‘We had everybody out there’: City crews work around-the-clock clearing streets over holiday

Photo: A city snowplow clears Willow Lake Road on Christmas Eve at about 4 p.m.
Photo by Cindy Barks.

Photo: A city snowplow clears Willow Lake Road on Christmas Eve at about 4 p.m.

PRESCOTT – Thirty City of Prescott street and utility employees reportedly worked rotating 12-hour shifts throughout the long holiday weekend to battle the Christmas Eve/Christmas Day storm that blanketed the area with snow.

County worked 43 miles of roads

Doug Frederico, Yavapai County road superintendent, said 11 county employees worked in one of two shifts on Christmas Eve: from 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. through 4 a.m. on Christmas Day. Another crew of 10 came on at 4 a.m. Christmas Day and worked until noon.

“We prioritize the roads by the amount of traffic and speed,” he said. “We have 43 miles of roads that are our first priority, and that is what we focus on while snow is still falling.”

County workers began plowing the secondary roads on Monday, Dec. 26.

Frederico said the annual budget for snow removal has an overtime line item that is tapped into with snow events like this.

The cost for crews working two days, Dec. 24 and 25, was about $6,500 for about 165 man-hours. Employees receive time-and-a-half pay for any hours worked over 40 hours per week.

  • Sue Tone,

The Daily Courier

“We had everybody out there,” Prescott Street Maintenance Superintendent Bobbie King said Tuesday morning of the three previous snowy days. “They were working 12 hours on, 12 hours off.”

The city has 12 snowplows in its fleet – six large plows and six smaller vehicles – and all were running virtually nonstop through the weekend, King said.

Still, she reported that she was busy Tuesday responding to about 50 phone messages that had been left on the city’s maintenance hotline.

“We have some unhappy residents,” King said, noting that many of the messages came from people living on streets that had yet to be cleared – especially in the higher-elevation subdivisions. Areas such as the western end of Copper Basin Road appeared to be especially hard hit by the storm, she said.

“What we’re doing now is mopping up the places that were missed,” King said, noting that the city has about 615 lane miles to maintain. “I’ve got six lists right now.”

The city’s policy is to clear its main streets (collectors and arterials) first, and get to the smaller residential streets later.

Because of the nature of the storm, King said the crews had to return again and again to the main streets. “It was a fast storm; it came down fast, and it came down a lot,” she said. “(Crews) went through arterials and collectors multiple times.”

Neither Prescott City Manager Michael Lamar nor King were certain Tuesday morning about the cost of the city’s snow-removal efforts to date.

King said reports on overtime hours would be submitted later. But, she said, a storm like the one that occurred on Christmas Eve “can eat a big chunk out of” the budgeted amount.

The current city budget includes $60,000 for snow-removal materials, she said, and another $60,000 for employee overtime.

Of the employees who spent much of their Christmas Eve and Christmas Day clearing the city’s streets, King said, “They are pretty darn dedicated. The whole crew was on standby, and they all responded. They all came in. It was a big team effort.”

The crews included 27 street employees, and three wastewater workers, King said.

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