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Edmonton crews hit the roads as city experiences first major snowfall of the season

It was all hands on deck Tuesday for city road crews as Edmonton experienced its first major snowfall of the season.

City of Edmonton road crews began their work Monday night, preparing for Tuesday’s snowfall.

“Since the snow has fallen, we have trucks out on all of our major collectors and arterial roadways, putting down traction material to keep the roads safe for Edmontonians,” said Valerie Dacyk, general supervisor of infrastructure field operations with the City of Edmonton.

“We have full crews out there on the roadways.”

Upwards of 100 snowplows, sanders and graders were out on city streets on Tuesday, applying sand and traction material.

“As we’re getting colder, we’re putting more and more sand – so actual grit – down on the roadway,” Dacyk said.

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“As the temperatures fall, we’ll see more sand being put down so that it stays on the roadway. If it warms up – which it may in the next few weeks – we’ll start putting a bit more salt.”

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Crews will first focus on Edmonton’s main roads, such as the Whitemud and Yellowhead freeways. Next, they will target collector roads and bus routes, followed by industrial areas.

“This year our target is five days for everything. But you will see them cleared in that order,” Dacyk said.

At this time, there is no plan to do residential road clearing.

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“This year we are waiting for that five- to 10-centimetre snow pack in residentials to develop,” Dacyk said.

“Obviously at this point we do not have that yet, so we will be waiting to see that develop. But if we do experience icy conditions or safety concerns in residentials, we will be following up on notifications.”

Dacyk said the city has not yet called on any contract workers to help tackle city streets.

For snow-removal contractors, Tuesday’s snowfall has been a long time coming.

“We’re pretty happy to be working, doing something,” Brandon Steenson with Wit Maintenance said.

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He expects to be busy this week, spending hours out in the frigidly cold temperatures.

“The excitement is still here because it’s new. Three months from now it may be different,” Steenson said.

On Monday, the City of Edmonton activated its extreme weather response to help keep vulnerable Edmontonians safe. The response is triggered when the wind chill hits -20 or colder for at least three consecutive days. City facilities such as recreation centres and libraries will be available during regular business hours for people to warm up.

This year, the city’s snow-clearing budget is $65 million, up from $61 million last year, according to Dacyk.

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