County Highway Dept. looks to improve communication during snowstorms

EAU CLAIRE CO., Wis. (WEAU)- Most of us can say driving in the snow is not our favorite part of winter, especially as roads become less safe for driving.

But, the Eau Claire County Highway Department is looking to change that.

The department hopes to improve plowing services in high crash areas, by getting on the same frequency with the City of Eau Claire with a new radio system.

On snowplow routes that overlap between the county and city, Eau Claire County Highway Commissioner Jon Johnson says a radio system between the city and county would allow drivers to communicate locations and needed assistance faster and more efficiently, helping keep roads clearer during snow storms.

“The city will plow Rudolph [Road], a lot of the crossroads through Clairemont, and we do the mainline; and you get a lot of times where there’s snow out on the intersection,” Johnson said. “If we can coordinate that and bring the trucks through at the same time, in some cases, the bigger intersections, it’ll be done more efficiently. Basically it’ll be a safer way to plow it.”

The cost for each individual radio starts at $2,000; looking to grant funding to help save taxpayer money.

Johnson said they currently use cellphones to communicate with city truck drivers, but by using a radio, it will help increase driver safety when talking between the county and city on the road.

“Hopefully we can try it out this winter yet, hopefully we don't have a huge snow storm,” he added.

Thursday, the Eau Claire County Highway Department will also be discussing the possibility of building a new highway shop next to the Northwest Region Wisconsin State Patrol post on Highway 53. It’s currently owned by the state. Johnson said the current Eau Claire County facility is becoming too small, and they are in the preliminary phase of looking for other properties around the area.

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