The street department has a new home, but the same responsibilities when the weather gets nasty.
The Wellington Street Department has moved into a slick, new facility all the while making sure the community's streets aren't slick during the winter months.
In Augusta the street department settled into the new building at 19 Industrial, on the northwest corner of Hillside and Industrial. There are still one or two things the crew is waiting on before the facility is 100 percent complete.
"Right now we're in flux because we have to construct a new sand-storeage building," said Street Department Director, Jeremy Jones. "We're very close to that, we're just waiting on some parts for it, some concrete blocks to where we can get that finished up. I'm hoping that gets done before we have any real weather." A blast of Winter weather hit over the New Year's holiday, but the City is ready for a lot more than that.
Wellington uses a different kind of pre-treatment, compared to the Kansas Department of Transportation and Wichita.
"What they're using is a salt water mix, a brine that they put down and it kind of helps keep that from freezing but we don't have the equipment to set up that activity. The other thing is the availability of salt," Jones explained. "On dry years, it's not much of a problem, but when we get a lot of snow and ice, salt can get hard to get a hold of. If that's the system you're working with there's not a whole lot you can do." Instead, Wellington utilizes calcium.
"We put calcium pellets in with our sand and that keeps it from freezing while it sets in the trucks with the moisture that's naturally in the sand," Jones explained. "Then when we're out sanding the roads, we spray it with calcium and that gives us that melting capability." When it's time to determine what course of action to take with local streets, there's a lot to consider.
"If we know the weather's going to be bad, we try to have everything ready, we designate somebody to go check major intersections and the viaduct, overpass, and bridges," Jones said. "It's really a judgement call...it's very dependent on what mother nature throws at us." Now that the street department has a bigger facility, response times should increase in case they are called out on the spot.
"One of the jokes around here was we had to move five things just to get to the asphalt patch truck," Jones said. "Literally it could take you 30 to 45 minutes to get a piece of equipment out, here we can just go jump right in it." There will also be less wear and tear on City vehicles, because they can now all fit inside. Jones says the extra space is the building's best attribute.
"We had to strategically set stuff outside hoping that we weren't going to need it," Jones said about the old facility on the corner of Second and Olive. "Up here we have room for everything." The City purchased the new street department head quarters from Future's Unlimited.
"The acquisition was just over 400,000 dollars, we did have it appraised," said City Manager, Gus Collins. "The appraisal was slightly, slightly higher than the acquisition price." Buying the building was a more cost efficient route.
"It was much, much cheaper than building a building half this size," Jones said. Collins said the facility meets all the current needs of the street department and should continue to meet them for years to come.
"I did feel comfortable then that we were expending tax-payer dollars and making sure it was done efficiently, accurately, and not frivolously," he said. For more information about the street department, visit cityofwellington.net, or call 326-7831. For instant updates about the City, check out their page on Facebook.com