Posts Tagged ‘DPW’

Portadam Cover 5-12-14

The Port-A-Dam deployed across the Rosemont side of the Beaver Brook bridge.

On Tuesday May 20 and Wednesday May 21 a City flood emergency team will conduct a flood training exercise.  The team, with members from Fire, Public Works and Wastewater, will do a dry run installation of both the stop log wall and the Port-A-Dam systems on opposite sides of the bridge over Beaver Brook on Martin and Beaver Streets.

The stop log wall system was built by the Army Corps of Engineers as part of the dike system on the Centralville side of the brook.  The Port-A-Dam system was purchased by the City in 2009 and is used on the Pawtucketville bank to help protect the Rosemont neighborhood.

“While we hope that these temporary dams never again need to be utilized, it is important that our flood response team conduct regular training on their installation,” said City Manager Kevin Murphy.  “Should the need arise, we will be prepared to respond and install these dams quickly to minimize damage to our neighborhoods.”

During these exercises the Beaver Brook bridge and approaches will be closed to through traffic from 9:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. as team members prepare, install and dismantle the structures.

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Cirus Salt System controls.

Cirus Salt System controls.

Over the 2011/12 winter season, the City had snowfall of 23.9 inches and used 6,571 tons of road salt to keep roads clear; this past season (as of February 24) the City has had 72.9 inches of snow and used 9,605 tons of salt. On a tons per inch basis, the drop in usage is significant and has resulted in a savings of $994,842 over the last three seasons.

These dramatic savings have been made possible through the acquisition of new vehicles and the installation of electronic salt control systems that monitor road temperature and other factors and adjust the spread rate accordingly.  It also reduces the amount of salt spread when a truck slows down or shuts off the spreader completely when a truck comes to a stop, eliminating uneven distribution and over salting.  In total, 24 trucks have been equipped with this system, each at a cost of about $8,300 per truck for a total investment of about $200,000. These purchases were part of the City’s capital plan.

Based on the cost of salt of $50.88 per ton, this investment has resulted in a five-fold savings of $1 million.  In FY 13 the City saved $463,692; so far in FY 14, another $531,150 compared to FY 12.  More savings are expected as additional vehicles are outfitted over the next few years.

Plow/salter clearing snow February 13.

Plow/salter clearing snow February 13.

Over the last three seasons, salt usage dropped by 46% when measured in tons per inch of snow.  This drop is especially significant given the tripling of snowfall during the same period.  This year, salt usage per inch of snow is down another 11%.

The following summarizes year-to-year numbers:

FY 12: 6,571.3 tons of salt; 23.9 inches of snow; 275 tons per inch
FY 13: 10,713.1 tons of salt; 72.1 inches of snow; 148.6 tons per inch
FY 14: 9,605.55 tons of salt; 72.9 inches of snow; 131.8 tons per inch (as of 2/24/14)

“Our capital plan is clearly paying dividends,” said City Manager Bernie Lynch.  “With the City Council’s support, we’ve been able to continue to replace our aging public works fleet and to include the latest technology for monitoring winter storm conditions and salt distribution.  Our return on this investment is dramatic and has the added benefit of reducing the amount of salt runoff into rivers, streams and residents’ yards.”

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With apologies to Shakespeare, our winter has also been a challenge but for different reasons. Unless you like skiing and sledding or you sell shovels and snowblowers! Or you’re Lowla Bear! We can only hope that, despite what the calendar says, winter will soon give way to “glorious summer”. If not, City DPW crews remain ready to keep the worst of winter at bay.

Storm-14-2-13 (3)During the height of the latest storm, we took a ride with DPW spotters to get a front seat view of winter’s tempest. It was eye opening as we travelled up and down the hills of Centralville, through Belvidere and across downtown in near whiteout conditions.

For the most part residents were heeding the parking ban which made a big difference as plows tried to keep up with a 2-3 inch-an-hour snowfall rate during an early rush hour. We crisscrossed sanders and plows of all sizes whose priority at that point in storm operations was to keep a travel lane open. Unusual or dangerous conditions, blockages or hidden side streets not yet plowed were called in for attention.

After just a couple hours, it was difficult to imagine staying awake for 18 to 24 hours navigatingStorm-14-2-13 (5) city streets. With new equipment, including plows and sanders equipped with the latest temperature sensing and communications technology, DPW has new tools in their ongoing battle with winter. Operations will continue and move to cleanup phase as crews get back from much needed (and required) rests.

For more information and a complete outline of snow operations click here.

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City Manager Bernie Lynch recently launched an initiative to encourage greater citizen participation in keeping Lowell safe and clean and properties up to code.  The ‘See Something, Say Something’ campaign includes newspaper ads, fliers, social media posts and community outreach.  The effort also includes an internal recruitment effort to engage City employees to keep an eye out and report any concerns they might spot.

Code Enforcement Capture

The campaign focuses on three areas—public safety, code enforcement and infrastructure.  Citizens are asked to report issues like speeding cars, suspicious activity, graffiti, broken benches and streetlight outages using traditional and new technology to submit reports.

Infrastructure Capture

Reports and requests can be submitted via E-Gov (www.egovlink.com/lowell/action.asp); or SeeClickFix (seeclickfix.com/Lowell).  Issues can also be called in to Neighborhood Services at (978) 674-4030.  For police emergencies residents should call 911.  For non-emergency issues contact police at (978) 937-3200.  A new smart phone app, MYPD, can also be utilized for police issues.

Public Safety Capture

City Manager Bernie Lynch says the goal of this campaign is to engage more residents to become “another set of eyes” in reporting these issues.

“We have vibrant neighborhood organizations and their networks provide a solid base for reporting issues.  Our goal with this campaign is to build on that base and engage all citizens in efforts to keep us informed if something doesn’t look quite right,” said Lynch.  “Our employees will also be a key piece to this effort as they travel across the city during their normal work activities.”

“Just like a medical emergency, it’s critical that we learn about any concerns as soon as possible so we can ‘triage’ the issue and rectify it quickly,” said Lynch.  “We encourage all citizens who See Something to Say Something.”

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The City’s former landfill, once affectionately nicknamed Mount Trashmore, has gone green.

Solar panels atop the City's former landfill.

Solar panel installation nears completion atop the City’s former landfill.

Nearly six acres at the top and along the flanks of the mini-mountain in the Highlands have been covered with solar panels that will begin producing low cost, green energy to the City by early 2014.

Since being closed and capped, the landfill area has provided shed and open storage for salt, mulch, gravel and other materials for the Department of Public Works.  The new panels will not impact the Public Work’s use of this area.

The panels were installed under a power purchase agreement through the City’s Ameresco project.  Once complete they will produce 1.5 megawatts of clean electricity atop an area that was anything but clean.

Solar panels have also been installed and are currently producing electricity at the Water Utility on Pawtucket Boulevard and the Wastewater Utility facility on First Street as well as the Lowell Memorial Auditorium and four public schools.

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No, this isn’t a health advisory although a 40% reduction in road salt used during winter storms will make for a healthier environment and a healthier snow and ice budget.

Cirus Salt System (1)New equipment installed to monitor and control salt output on the City’s salt trucks have resulted in a 40% reduction of salt usage in the first full year of operation. Twenty-one vehicles–a combination of new and existing winter fleet vehicles–have been equipped with the Cirus SpreadSmart salt control system. This system allows for the managed spread of salt at various levels to account for varying storm conditions as well as distinct neighborhood and road characteristics. Retrofitting the older vehicles cost $100,000; the savings in fiscal year 2013 alone has been $215,000.

Where the average truck output of salt per truck was 1,000 pounds per lane mile, it is now down to 350 pounds per lane mile, a far more efficient way to keep our roads safe during the winter.

Going forward, the Department of Public Works will be fine-tuning the system for even greater benefits. In addition, contractors with salters will be required to install the Cirus system on their vehicles by next winter, further reducing salt use and costs. Also in the works for next year is the addition of an agricultural based liquid product that will increase the effectiveness of the salt.

All of which will result in positive outcomes for our environment and our bottom line.

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Beginning in mid April, the City of Lowell, through its Recycle M.O.R.E. program will provide all Lowell residents the opportunity to recycle mixed bottles, cans, and paper recyclables.

Residents will be able to deposit recyclables in the labeled container at the Department of Public Works facility at 1365 Middlesex Street, Monday through Saturday (except holidays), between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

The Mandatory Ordinance Recycling Enforcement (M.O.R.E.) program strives to increase the City’s recycling participation rate among all residents, including non-curbside residents.  As part of this effort, Mandatory Recycling Enforcement Coordinator Bill Stanwood, has been working to educate residents about the benefits of increasing recycling and putting out clean, dual-stream (‘paper’ and ‘bottles and cans’) recyclables.

The Recycle M.O.R.E. campaign has been funded by the Department of Environmental Protection and is actively working to assure that residents meet state and local recycling requirements.

For more information, please check the Solid Waste & Recycling Office website at www.LowellRecycle.org, or call 978-674-4309.

You can also follow us at www.Facebook.com/lowellrecycle.

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