Street sweepers and patchers replace plowers in Eau Claire

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- After seeing snow plows take over the roads this winter, we're finally seeing a different kind of truck, the street sweepers.

The city of Eau Claire says it is ready to go out in full force after snow and freezing rain took a tear on the roadways for nearly six months.

The sunshine and rise in temperature is not only a sign that spring is here but that winter road operations can come to an end.

“They’re looking forward to getting into something besides plowing snow. The sun helps everyone’s attitude and when things start to thaw out we look forward to the spring and summer operations,” said city street maintenance manager Steven Thompson.

Crews started its clean sweep last week but had to put a pause after some snow earlier this week.

“We start by sweeping all the main arterials. Part of that process is pressure washing all of the main arterials, the islands and getting all the dirt out onto the streets so they can be swept up,” said Thompson.

All of the sand, pebbles and dust on the ground are remnants of how city workers spend the last six months.

“A lot of it is from the de-icing operations, from salting and sanding. Some of it is from road patch that has broken out and cracked and the pavements that are falling apart and eroding and some of its erosion from boulevards,” he said.

So far, the city says it's used more than half of its $1.5 million winter road budget. But now with the warm up, they can move onto the spring and summer operation budget.

The spring-like weather also means it’s time to patch up those pesky potholes.

Around mid-May is when Thompson said local hot mix plants will open. The hot mix is much stronger and more pliable than the gravel patch that’s used as a temporary fix during the winter.

“Once the hot mix plants open we'll use hot mix to fix certain streets and certain potholes that need more work than just,” said Thompson.

He said already workers have been identifying where to do repairs.

Some city workers patching up the potholes say drivers need to take more caution when driving by crews. Some people are even swerving last minute because they don’t pay attention to the roads.

“Give them plenty of room to operate. They do move slowly. They actually move a lot slower than a plow truck,” said Thompson who added it’s okay to go around the workers as long as you do so cautiously.

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