Adel’s Jim George doesn’t take snow lightly. As the Dallas County Engineer, he directs nearly two dozen snowplow trucks and road graders from his garages just north of town.
“Our crews work to keep 700 miles of gravel roads and 180 miles of paved roads clear,” says George. “We have about 24 operators out on the road from 5 a.m. until 5 p.m. when there is a snow event.”
This includes the blizzard of 2012 in December, considered the worst storm in a decade.
“This was a bit of an extraordinary one,” George says. “We had six or seven guys that didn’t go home for three days. They slept on cots in the shop, as well as they could anyway. By staying at the shop, they were able to get out on the streets very early in the morning.”
With miles of rural roads in Dallas County, plowing at night is a dangerous prospect, as darkness and blowing snow limit visibility.
“We pull our crews in at night,” says George. “It’s just too dangerous to have them out on remote roads at night.
“This blizzard was a tough event for us,” he says. “Our biggest problem was the folks that went out in the storm when travel was not advised. They would get stuck in the middle of the road, and we’d spend our time pulling them out so we could get the plows through. That was time that we should have spent plowing.”
With all hands on deck working that storm, the 22 plows and graders were able to keep all paved roads open during the storm.
“We pulled graders off the gravel and put them on pavement on Thursday,” says George. “That’s our policy on storms like this. Some of the other counties had trouble keeping some highways open, but by focusing our efforts on the paved roads early in the storm, we were able to keep our 180 miles of pavement open.
“On Friday (one day after the storm), we could focus on the gravel roads and were able to get them all clear,” he says. “We had to hit the rural roads on Monday (Dec. 24) again because of the high winds blowing things around again.”
Dallas County stockpiles about 1,200 tons of salt and sand in their new salt dome north of Adel.
“We went through quite a bit of it on that storm,” says George. “We’d like a nice two to three inches of light fluff through the rest of the winter.”
Contact Darren at 953-4822 ext. 304 or firstname.lastname@example.org to recommend someone for an upcoming issue of “What’s In Your Garage?”