Tulsa City Crews Prepared For Possible Winter Weather

Wednesday, November 20th 2013, 11:26 pm
By: News On 6

The drop in temperature could soon have Tulsa crews dropping salt on city roads. With more than 1,800 miles of streets, Tulsa's public works office could have its hands full if Mother Nature doesn't cooperate.

The public works department doesn't pre-treat the roads, but it appears it's well prepared for what the year's first round of winter weather might bring.

"Hope for the best, plan for the worst," said Street Contract Manager Paul Strizek.

He said the city's crews have already brushed up on their routes through the city.

Tulsa has an army of spreaders and plows--about 64. The Turnpike Authority's fleet is about the same size, and ODOT has about 10 times as many, taking care of Oklahoma roads and highways, some of which can be downright treacherous.

"A couple of years ago, it was really bad, and if we wouldn't have had our four-wheel drive, we wouldn't have made it to work," said Tulsa resident Paige Glover.

11/20/2013 Related Story: Northeastern Oklahoma Braces For Blustery Weather

In Tulsa, workers try to cover the city evenly, so emergency crews have access, but they keep a close eye on spots like the hill at 81st and Yale.

"Everyone was like, 'You're really moving up there? It's going to be so bad in the winter,'" said Tracy Wright.

Tulsa's public works department says it has just over 5,000 tons of sand for trouble spots, but the treatment the city prefers to use didn't cost them a dime this year.

Strizek said, during an average winter, the city runs through about 8,000 tons of salt, but he said, because the last two winters have been so mild, they've got nearly twice that--about 15,000 tons of salt, or roughly the equivalent of $1.2 million.

Tulsa crews also use liquid magnesium chloride to keep snow and sleet from sticking to the roads, but due to the expense, the city is considering switching to a cheaper saltwater solution next year.

"It's been a weird year in weather. You really don't know what's going to happen," Wright said.

Strizek said, even after 35 winters with the department, the only thing he can't predict is how much snow and sleet this year will bring.

"Ask me next spring and I'll tell you what happened this winter," he said.

Strizek said, if they are up and running with a full head of steam, they can make one pass through the city in roughly 12 hours.

Strizek said they only use sand in an emergency, when they run out of salt, because it stays on the road after the snow melts, posing a risk to drivers.