Rockford Public Works prepares trucks for winter conditions

Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 6:16 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Despite an absence of flurries in the current forecast, Rockford Public Works Street Department is ready for any weather.

Since the end of last season, the street department has spent its time gearing up for the months to come. With nearly 2,000 miles of road to cover, no amount of preparation is too great.

Starting this Friday, plow drivers will be on stand-by, waiting for the first snowflake to fall on the Forest City.

“They wait for the call out. Our goal is to, we watch the weather, we try to get our drivers in just before the storm arrives typically,” Mitch Leatherby, street transportation superintendent says. “And they start going out on their routes and spreading salt to avoid that bond of snow down to the pavement.”

In all, Public Works has 23 routes covered by 28 trucks, driven by 46 alternative drivers. When more help is needed, more than 150 contracted drivers in pick-up trucks lend a hand. The city uses somewhere between 12 and 14 thousand tons of salt, that adds up to about $1.1 million.

Mayor Tom McNamara announced a pilot project that is meant to focus on plowing 215 miles of alleys in the city.

“I’m sure there will be some hiccups throughout this pilot project, that’s why it’s a pilot project,” McNamara says. “We want to always look at defining different ways that we can provide new services to residents for the funds that they invest into the city via their property tax.”

Public Works provides some tips to keep you and your loved ones safe this winter: check all the tires on your vehicles, monitor the weather before you leave, and give yourself plenty of time to travel in the event of an on-coming winter storm.

“They all can be interesting, every storm is a little bit different for our staff, for our drivers out on the roads. But it’s our job, it’s our job, it’s what we prepare for throughout the year, we do everything we have to ensure our staffing levels,” Leatherby says.

In the event of extreme weather, it is important to follow city ordinances. Parking on one side of the street will guarantee that your road gets plowed. Failure to do so could mean you get snowed in.