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Frequent snowfall keeps Eau Claire plow crews busy

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The city has 86 miles of what it calls "Ice Control Routes."  They're its first priority for snow and ice removal.  Its second priority is 63 miles of "Secondary Plow Routes."  Its third priority is "Residential Plow Routes," which encompass 195 miles of streets.  For more information, click on the link above.

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Municipal plow trucks are logging more miles this season because of the relatively small snowfall events we've experienced every few days in recent weeks.

The City of Eau Claire says it's used more salt this season, and its plow crews have been quite a bit busier than in years past.

Pam Taylor of Eau Claire says all the snow has kept her busy too.

"I'm ready for it to be done already," she said. "Every time the plow comes through, you have to 'unshovel' your driveway."

But with every dusting we experience, there's more and more work for the plow drivers.

"Usually in December, we see snow, but usually it's in larger amounts and less of them. Maybe three inches plus, and then there will be a week and you might get another three inches plus," said Street Maintenance Manager Steven Thompson. "This year, we've been seeing maybe every two or three days getting another dusting of snow, which puts our crews out quite a bit more than we expect."

Thompson says crews keep the city's primary routes clear, whether it snows less than an inch, or more than eight inches. He says the goal is to keep traffic moving. He's just hoping that the city can save on salt, since it's spending more on staff.

"We have an allotted amount of salt we can use, and we start to use a little more sand, and in certain situations, and during bigger snowstorms, we don't salt the whole route until we know the storm has passed," Thompson said.

"We know the snow's coming. As long as it's snow, we can deal with it. When we get into the freezing rains and the temperature drops, that makes our job a lot harder. We'd all like to see it not snow again, but that's not reality."

"It's not my favorite, but I do live in Wisconsin, so, therefore, it's part of the deal," Taylor said.

Thompson said the melting snow and ice in Friday's warmer conditions won't make the main roads too slippery once temperatures drop again. He says residential streets could get icy under those same conditions.

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