New plow truck passes snowstorm test
By Bert Lehman
A new plow truck that the city of Clintonville had previously ordered saw immediate action when it was used during last week’s snowstorm.
The city took possession of the truck on Dec. 23, only five days prior to the snowstorm.
When asked how the truck performed, Toby Kersten, director of Public Works, said, “excellent.”
He added, “It plowed well. It performed well. I think we’re going to be very happy with it.”
Kersten said the truck is a 2016 International chassis, and is equipped with a Wausau snow plow and wing. The main plow is 11 feet, with the side wing 10 feet. The truck is equipped with a Schmidt spreader that can be used for salt or sand. There are also salt brine tanks on each side of the truck.
“We can use that salt brine as a pre-wetting agent for the dry salt,” Kersten said. “Or we can also use the truck before a storm and apply the brine to the roadway.”
Kersten said spraying the salt brine on the roadway prior to a snowfall helps prevent snow and ice forming a tight bond to the pavement. The snow and ice is then easier to remove from the roadway when the plow comes through.
The salt brine was not applied to city streets prior to last week’s snowstorm, Kersten said.
The truck is also fitted with a thermal logic weather station. This lets the plow operator know the air temperature, road temperature and what the road surface is like, Kersten said.
“That helps take the guess out of the operating of how much salt per lane mile should be applied and that automatically adjusts it on the go,” Kersten said. “It’s taking the controlling of how much salt should go on the road out of the driver’s hands so you are not over applying and wasting salt.”
During last week’s snowstorm, Kersten said the city used a third of the salt that it would have used with the old truck. He said the city also used 3,000 gallons of salt brine.
The salt brine is a mixture of salt and water. The city makes the brine itself. The used brine maker was purchased via a municipal auction from Kansas. A brand new salt brine maker costs around $40,000, Kersten said. He said the city has a total of $2,500-$3,000 invested in its salt brine setup.
The new truck cost roughly $210,000, with that amount coming from the Public Works capital budget. Kersten said one payment for the track came from the 2015 capital budget, and the remaining amount will come from the 2016 capital budget.
The new truck replaces a plow and sander truck that was purchased in the early 1990s, Kersten said.
“The truck itself looks like it’s in good shape but the frame is all rusty and cracked,” he said.
Kersten said the challenge now is finding time to get all the Public Works employees trained on how to use the truck and the computer technology in it.
“It’s pretty state of the art. We’re still in the learning stages,” Kersten said.
By reducing the amount of salt the city uses each winter, the amount of salt and sand runoff into area waterways will also be reduced.
Kersten said the truck can also apply salt to more than one traffic lane at a time.
“So it’s going to save us time and fuel,” Kersten said.