Rockford Public Works revs up snowplows for the winter season

Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 5:18 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Leaders in the City of Rockford’s Public Works Department are determined to not give the children a single snow day this year and began preparations for this winter immediately after the last one.

“Our staff spend the summer months going through all of our trucks and equipment, making sure they’re ready to go for the first snowfall,” said Mitch Leatherby, Rockford’s Street and Transportation Superintendent.

Those months of prep all lead up to the city’s first big event. It happened last weekend, when Rockford saw its first snowfall of the winter.

“Trucks ran good, staff did great, any modifications we made to the equipment in routes went ok so at this point, we’re reloaded and ready and waiting for the next operation,” Leatherby said.

Clearing Rockford’s roads is a big operation, with more than 20 snowplows making routes. If the city sees more than 2 inches fall, they contract out the work. This means Rockfordians could see more than 100 trucks on the roads during these times.

“We have more than 1700 lane miles in the city of Rockford, so if you spread that out, we could literally get to Las Vegas, that’s how many roads we have to plow,” said Kyle Saunders, Director of Public Works for the city.

Saunders says he isn’t worried about the rising inflation when it comes to salt for the trucks.

“We did see about a 60% increase in salt price, but historically over the last 5 or 6 years it has been a downward trend. So it’s still lower and cost effective than it has been in years past,” he told 23 News.

He urges residents to be patient during snowstorms, because keeping the roads safe tackles time.

“If it’s been 13 minutes since the snow stopped and you don’t see anyone plowing, don’t worry we’re still here, it just takes a lot of time to get through the entire city of Rockford,” Saunders said.

If you’re on the road and see a plow, slow down, and give them plenty of distance. The driver is operating both the heavy vehicle, and the plow equipment.