By Will Jones – Photo by: JOE MAHONEY/TIMES-DISPATCH
Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones said yesterday that the city would respond to future snowstorms by mobilizing sooner and dispatching more equipment and workers.
After criticism of the cleanup from last weekend’s storm, and with the possibility of more winter weather this weekend, Jones said the city’s efforts have been hampered by on-street parking, as well as the previous administration’s decision to sell 36 dump and pickup trucks. As a result, officials said, the time to finish a snow route has doubled, from 45 minutes to at least 90 minutes.
“It is imperative that we equip the city with the vehicles, machinery and supplies that are needed to perform the necessary functions and provide timely and efficient service to the residents of the city of Richmond,” Jones said in a statement.
In 2007, then-Mayor L. Douglas Wilder’s administration touted its sale of 500 vehicles from its fleet of about 2,700 as a way to save substantial amounts on maintenance and fuel.
Yesterday, Chief Administrative Officer Byron C. Marshall said the sale evidently was done for good reasons, but he added: “We’ve had some unintended consequences.”
He detailed shortand long-term steps to improve snow response:
•Mobilize workers when there’s 2 inches of snow on the ground, rather than 3 inches.
•Set a goal of clearing all main, non-neighborhood roads within 48 hours.
•Enlist additional private contractors, including ones hired for non-snow-clearing jobs.
•Immediately buy four highway plows, 12 tailgate spreaders and four reversible plows. Also, revise a pending order for 23 garbage trucks so they can be equipped for snow-clearing.
•Identify additional city employees who may be qualified to operate snow equipment.
•Stop buying sedans for inspectors and resume buying pickup trucks that can be deployed for snow duty.
•Designate snow-emergency routes, which could require cars to be removed from one side of certain roads to provide room for snow equipment. Marshall estimated the cost of the initiatives at about $200,000 and said money is available in this year’s budget from projects that finished with a surplus.