Fall has just begun, but Hall County road crews are already prepared for winter storms.
With proceeds from the sale of surplus equipment, the county was able to purchase eight snow plow attachments for county trucks, said Road Maintenance Supervisor Jimmy Hightower.
The snow plows will cut the time and staff needed to clear roads after snow and ice storms.
“It allows one man to move the snow off the road and lay down the gravel and the salt to break up the ice,” Hightower said.
In the past, road crews have used motor graders — construction equipment with a long blade that prepares roads for paving — to clear snow off of roadways.
“With what we had to work with, it just wasn’t giving us the ability to get out to all of the roads as quickly as we’d like to,” Hightower said. “We have about 160 road miles that we have to maintain on our priority roads and it takes quite a while to get those roads completed.”
Public Works Director Ken Rearden said last year’s unusually cold winter highlighted the need for better equipment.
“We had four (snow) events and we probably used (motor graders) 15 days total trying to get the roads cleaned off,” Rearden said.
Just to clear the main priority roads takes about 12 hours per commission district using the old system, Hightower said.
One employee would drive the motor grader, followed by another truck for safety. A separate vehicle would come in behind and spread salt and gravel to break up ice, followed by yet another buffer vehicle.
Now, the snow plows can be attached to the trucks carrying salt and gravel.
“We know going into another event that the newer equipment would allow us to get out there and get the roads covered in a quicker time,” Hightower said.
The new snow plow attachments will also save money in the long run. Motor graders cost about $275,000 each.
“It’s going to be much more efficient than replacing the motor graders in the future,” Hightower said.
Hightower said he hopes this winter will be a little less treacherous than last year’s.
“They’re thinking this winter may be mild. I hope it is, but if it’s not we’ll be ready for it,” Hightower said.