City Of Tulsa 'Pit Crew' Works To Keep Plows Running

Monday, March 3rd 2014, 11:03 pm
By: News On 6

There are casualties in Tulsa's arsenal in the fight against slick streets. Some plows and fire engines are in for repairs and might not be fixed until everything has melted.

Mechanics are working around the clock in what looks like a racecar pit row for city vehicles.

When 60 city trucks get snow plows and salt spreaders put on for winter weather they run non-stop until the job is done; every once in a while they break down.

Leon Kragel with the Tulsa Street Maintenance Department said, "They try to get them in as fast as possible because they know the more that they're out there, for the citizens out there on their routes, the quicker the roads are clear, the quicker, eventually, we can all go home and back to normal shifts."

Plows come in with broken lights, broken plows and sometimes missing mirrors. The two city maintenance shops see it all.

"Everybody got to get around to their jobs, so we do the best that we can do," said plow driver Rory Johnson.

Johnson took his truck off his route for a new plow blade. A metal piece needs to be replaced from time to time, it allows the snow plow to scrape the road surface and throw ice and snow to the curb.

Without these mechanics making critical repairs, crews would be delayed getting back out on the road.

"Luckily, we got the guys that we do, because they get us in and out pretty fast. I mean, it helps out having them in there," Johnson said.

Repairs vary from 30 minutes to sometimes three days. Crews are also battling the side-effects of their own road treatments.

"That salt is very hard on anything, that's metal and not just the bed itself. You know you're thinking of the undercarriage, we've even had some transmission pans at times that have actually fallen out from being rusted," Kragel said.

At least one Tulsa Fire truck is out of service. The fire department said one fire company got hit three times during the winter storm. Firefighters said small fender benders come from people not slowing down on the slick roads.

Repair crews are doing something different this season. When a plow truck leaves the garage,  they spray it down with water so people can see the reflective signs to stay back.