Our View: Street crews do a remarkable job during winter weather
Those of us living in the area know that this has been a rough winter. We’ve already had well over 50 inches of snow and, on top of that, we’ve had record cold temperatures. Most would agree -- we can’t get a break this winter. Either it is snowing, is well below zero or both!
After the big storm we had on Feb. 20 and 21, we were amazed at the efficiency at which snow was plowed and/or removed in Hudson, North Hudson, the surrounding towns and St. Croix County. While traffic in the Twin Cities was nearly at a standstill in many locations, everybody in the Hudson area was able to get where they wanted to go (once you shoveled your own driveway!).
We can have a terrible snowstorm one day, and the roads are remarkably cleared the next morning. In fact, there have been many overnight storms that dump snow on our communities, yet the streets are plowed and ready for early-morning traffic.
We are always impressed when we see the plows and trucks working on our roads even before the snow ends -- often times the people responsible for clearing our roads are working in the middle of the night, early mornings and long days!
Speaking of long nights, there are many mornings throughout the winter when we see crews in downtown Hudson, finishing their overnight work of clearing snow from the downtown area. It’s remarkable how municipalities in the Hudson area can recover from a 12-inch (or more) snowstorm quickly, while cities down south can be paralyzed for days by a couple inches of snow.
There are essentially five agencies working the highways and streets in the Hudson area.
In the city of Hudson, the municipality has its own Public Works Department, headed by life-long Hudson resident Tom Zeuli. His workers are responsible for clearing all the city streets and removing snow from many areas.
For example, take the downtown streets. Once the snow has been plowed, it can’t be left at the curb building up throughout the winter. After the initial plowing is done, the public works crew comes in during the night and removes all the snow from the downtown curbs and streets. The same is true in other parts of the city where there is not room to just continuously pile the snowbanks higher and higher! The department does an extraordinary job!
The formula is a bit different in the village of North Hudson, but the job gets done just as efficiently. Mark Ekblad is the head of the North Hudson Public Works. His crew is heavily involved in snow removal and streets are remarkably cleared of snow when people begin their morning commutes.
The village gets an assist from a private vendor, Zappa Brothers. By contracting with a private vendor, it saves the village from having to purchase additional trucks and hire more people to operate the equipment. The combined efforts produce the same remarkable results as we see in the city.
The third piece of the puzzle is St. Croix County, headed by St. Croix County Highway Commissioner Tim Ramberg. The county has a huge area to cover and does a tremendous job. The county not only takes care of its own roads, but also covers state highways and I-94. The county plows an estimated 1,500 lane-miles of roads. The county workers have to be ready to hit the roads any time of the day or night especially with the interstate as part of the equation.
The county also is contracted to take care of the town roads in 11 towns, including the town of Hudson.
The final two parts of the equation are the towns of St. Joseph and Troy. The town of Troy has its own snow removal equipment under the direction of Gary Parent and Al Hanson. The town of St. Joseph contracts with Tuma Snow Plowing & Excavating (owned by Todd Tuma) and Schmitt and Sons Excavating (Don, John, Tom and Steve). All the towns receive excellent service.
No matter where you travel in the Hudson area, or throughout the county, the roads are opened quickly and efficiently after a big snowstorm. Winter road maintenance is challenging, dangerous and hard work. This winter has been especially challenging with heavy snow, rain, ice and cold weather.
We appreciate the dedication of all those people answering the bell when the snow begins to fly. Because of their hard work, the rest of us can get to where we want to go -- even during the worst of weather conditions. Keep up the good work!