Sand Man

December 22, 2008 at 2:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I didn’t drive a lot this weekend, but I did get around a little bit. Late on Sunday I realized that I couldn’t recall seeing sand on any of Lincoln’s myriad icy roads. Was I just not paying attention—a definite possibility—or was there really no sand on all / most / many / some of Lincoln’s skating rinks?

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The Comments

JT December 22, 2008 at 3:02pm

Saw the sand truck driving around and noticed sand on some formerly slick intersections around 20th and Van Dorn.

Gene December 22, 2008 at 3:23pm

The public works department isn’t doing much to win the public over, and I’m not sure they care at this point. Are they trying to save money? I don’t mind if they are, paying people to work overtime on the weekends is no doubt pricey, I just wish they’d be a little more forthcoming about things.

kacey December 22, 2008 at 4:03pm

I definitely slid through a red light at 17th and Van Dorn this AM and took plenty of time to slow down for the stop…and wasn’t going fast in the first place.  Scared the bejeezus outta me!

foxspit December 22, 2008 at 4:06pm

I’ve been reluctant to jump on the dog pile but these streets are incredibly dangerous and I haven’t seen nearly enough sand/salt being thrown down. The city has really dropped the ball this time, especially when you consider how much time they’ve had to address the issue.

Fletch December 22, 2008 at 4:23pm

It’s awful. Let’s not sugar-coat it. I drove around a fair amount yesterday, and there are roads that are awful, and dangerous. Coming down a hill on Van Dorn to try to stop for a light at 48th is an adventure, no matter how slow you go.

I think they need to rethink how they approach these storms. On the residential streets, the snow cover we had after the ice was a blessing. It was a small enough snowfall, that it didn’t impede the ability to drive. However, they came through my area and scraped off that top layer that gave you traction, leaving only a sheet of ice like an ice rink, with no sand on top of it. They would have been better to a) leave it alone, and b) use those resources to better clean the arterials.

Eric S December 22, 2008 at 4:25pm

I agree with foxspit. Don’t know what’s going on behind the scences and don’t want to throw anybody under the bus. (School Busses are running today right…haha)

Here’s what I DO know.
  -The roads with ice AND snow on them were bad…but drivable, the snow helped the traction issue.
  -When the plows scraped the roads, the snow got scraped and that left only ice…result: worse roads.
  -That was two days ago, haven’t gotten much better since.
  -Driving to Hickman (down 27th, saltillo, 68th) 27th street was horrible…until I got out of city limits. From there all the way to Hickman, the roads were perfect.

Maybe the county/state should give the Lincoln guys some hints…I dunno.

Gene December 22, 2008 at 4:26pm

You know, Lincoln has never been superb about cleaning the streets, but they used to do a lot better job than they’ve done in the past couple years. I wonder what’s changed.

Neal December 22, 2008 at 5:59pm

My favorite was when they’d leave those four-foot tall walls of snow in the middle of downtown streets, so pedestrians would have to climb over them or punch through them, and lane changes were essentially impossible. Do they still do that?

jwiltshire December 22, 2008 at 6:19pm

This is definitely true. I work about a half mile out of town, and it’s amazing the difference right at the city limits sign.

foxspit December 22, 2008 at 7:09pm

I’ve seen this done in Lincoln but it was a really heavy snow when that happened. Still, I had to hurdle the snow pile. I don’t know how the elderly were able to walk across the street with those there.

Dave K December 22, 2008 at 7:19pm

I find it refreshing that the city didn’t dump thousands of tons of sand on the streets in order to cover up their inability to efficiently plow the streets. 

Some people whine, others whine about the whiners.  But anyone can drive through Lincoln right now and see packed ice/snow on most major arterials.  You have to imagine that at one point, that snow was plowable.

Tom December 22, 2008 at 7:41pm

I chuckled Saturday when I read the Omaha World-Herald’s editorial page.  Someone was complaining about Omaha’s street crews not using enough salt and said to “look at Council Bluffs” for the way to clear streets.

Buffmeat December 22, 2008 at 10:32pm

I hate to complain because I try to take the approach that there is always more going on behind the scenes than we realize (maybe the Huskers made me more tolerant in the last few years).

But I have to say this is one of the worst fall/winters to try and drive in this town and I remember worse storms in my 15 years here.

Dave K December 22, 2008 at 10:42pm

As confirmed by this story just posted, Lincoln DPW thinks you keep the streets cleared by dumping materials on them.

Dave K December 22, 2008 at 10:45pm

Apparently the story wasn’t just posted, although it says 4:31 pm.  Nevertheless, a couple of the comments are pretty amusing and I’m sure they’ll get better.

Nantares December 23, 2008 at 12:55am

There was a two-car collision yesterday near my house, a three car crunch-up earlier tonight, and now a pick-up has slid, jumped the curb, and ended up on the front lawn of a nearby house.

I realize it only stopped snowing a short while ago, but this is along South Street. I don’t really have any answers, so just add me to the list of people saying that something has to change.

Joe December 23, 2008 at 1:54am

I was out for a walk over the past weekend, and I was surprised to see the number of sidewalks still covered completely with ice.  Lots of people in the neighborhood hadn’t even shoveled the snow, I assume because it would leave nothing but ice.

I tend to agree with a commenter on the LJS site that wondered if all the complainers had their own driveway/sidewalks completely clear.  If not, how come?  Doesn’t Menards or Lowes sell tons of sand?  I didn’t see a single sidewalk with sand and/or salt and I took a LONG walk.

Personally, I’m giving the city some slack with this weather situation.

Fletch December 23, 2008 at 3:40am

Uh, that’s why we pay taxes and have a city roads crew. Should I also arm myself to be self-policing? Should I also have fire extinguishers plentiful enough to put out any fire in my neighborhood, just in case? Should we just all run our households and streets and sidewalks the way we want, and not in accordance with the city’s rules and guidelines? My driveway and sidewalk are clear - but even if they weren’t, I don’t think I need to worry about multiple car collisions on my sidewalk. It’s treacherous on these roads. Today’s snow actually helped, as it gave more traction. Which means they’ll probably scrape that layer of snow off and take it back to the ice rink.

beerorkid December 23, 2008 at 3:52am

Odd man out here.  I really have no problem with what has been done.  We had ice dumped on us.  Seriously, it was ice that simply cannot be plowed away or melted when it is just above zero.  Road crews are not magical unicorns who can clear the streets with their rainbow rays and glitter dooks.

The lame plowing of residential street was apparently to appease cottenheadedninnymuggins who wanted at least something done to placate their fragile taxpayer status.

Remember the cool story this fall where bunches of cash was saved by buying salt early?  That ruled and was a good thing done.

Suck it up folks.  Deal with winter in a state that experiences it.

Fletch December 23, 2008 at 5:51am

Okay, I will buy all that. But why not drop some sand and salt on the intersections of major streets? I don’t want them or expect them back in my neighborhood. But, one should be able to drive up a slight hill on Pine Lake Road 72 hours after a storm. No?

Tom December 23, 2008 at 1:22pm

Well said, Steve, well said.

Mr. Wilson December 23, 2008 at 2:32pm

I don’t dispute that it’s pretty darn difficult—if not practically impossible—to eliminate ice on a city-wide scale when temperatures are so cold. But that’s only part of the story. Certain trouble spots can be treated, including troublesome deceleration zones leading into key intersections. And those trouble spots certainly should be treated when the conditions remain poor days after the icing event.

I’m all for driver responsibility. For example, I have long insisted that City crews should spend more time focusing on major roads and less time worrying about residential streets where lower speeds and contained conditions permit safer travel even on tricky roads. (Or, in small snow events, skip residential streets altogether except in notoriously unpleasant spots.) I am also not in the “just do something” crowd; I don’t favor doing “something” to the roads just for appearances. My point is simply that in my travels around town I have noted several opportunities for relatively simple action by the City that could have eased drivers’ pain.

beerorkid December 23, 2008 at 2:38pm

with 148 accidents reported over two days it does seem some areas could of used extra attention.  Early on I saw a lot of plows dumping just salt, which seemed odd.  Seemed it took the gravel a while to get put down.

This morning was pretty awesome to see the salt finally working.  The traffic should clear up the streets pretty good for the snow tonight.

I just love LJS comments smile

foxspit December 23, 2008 at 6:52pm

I put salt down before the snow, I cleared the walks down to the ice layer, added more salt, cleared them again. It still looks like a skating rink on my driveway and sidewalks. But I don’t have the heavy artillery the city has to clear everything off.

So. No, my walks and driveway are not clear. But it’s not for a lack of effort.

Fletch December 24, 2008 at 4:11am

Well said. That’s what I was trying to say. I’m not trying to say I am entitled to something special as a taxpayer. But, we pay these people a salary to DO something.

Eric December 27, 2008 at 3:45pm

I think they ought to look at how quickly they are getting out to plow and they really should put more salt down on the major streets. I think they also ought to look at contracting some of the side streets and less major arterial streets to private folks. In defense of the city, they did put down a fair amount of material on Friday but there isn’t much you can do when the temperature hovers around 0. I didn’t have too much trouble getting around town, although there were some slick spots. Other spots were perfect though.

Also, the lack of snow removal this winter isn’t confined to just Lincoln. I’ve been in suburban Chicago (a poster child for snow removal) recently and while their roads were better than Lincoln’s, there were certainly areas that weren’t great.

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