Cost of winter weather equipment tough to justify for one Florence official

City leaders say winter equipment not worth the cost

FLORENCE, Ala. (WAFF) - The week of wintry precipitation caused a great deal of frustration for people who were unable to travel until the icy, snowy mix melted.

According to our news partners at The Times Daily, Florence Public Works Director David Koonce said it would be difficult to justify purchasing major winter equipment for such rare events.

That is an example of things local officials are evaluating as they look back on the winter storm.

They are looking into what went well and what could be improved.

“We’re not set up for this,” Koonce said. “The equipment to handle this is expensive, and we would use it maybe every 10 years.”

Koonce said the city goes years and even decades between significant winter storms like last week’s.

“We don’t own a snowplow,” he said. “Why would we? In 20-something years, I don’t remember it happening at this level. If we bought one, most of the time it would sit there.”

The city does own a motor grader and ran it throughout the week.

“The motor grader does the same thing,” Koonce said. “It blades the road off. It works well for doing what we’ve done. Maybe we could buy more motor graders.”

Koonce said they focused on thoroughfares and areas leading into medical facilities such as North Alabama Medical Center, nursing homes and dialysis centers.

“The challenge has been for us to keep the hospital and main thoroughfares open,” he said. “We have not been able to get the side streets and residential stuff. We just don’t have the resources to do that. We’ve gotten a lot of complaints and a lot of concerns, but we have not slowed down.”

The street department also responded when police notified them of particularly hazardous streets, Koonce said.

“If they had a car sliding off a road, we either closed the road or treated it,” he said.

The city purchased an additional 30 tons of salt Wednesday to help keep up with the need.

Koonce said this winter storm came in several phases.

“The challenge with this was that it continued,” he said. “If it’s one and done, you treat it once and you’re done with it. Well, it kept doing it.”

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