The Department of Public Works and the Snow
Find out what the DPW is doing to protect you and your loved ones
The Department of Public Works (DPW) division is comprised of town employees that manage our towns public area’s; engineering, storm water drainage systems, parks, beaches, marinas, wastewater treatment plant, public buildings, sewer collection systems and yes — our roads! This hard working team protects the town’s investment in its infrastructure and helps to keep our community safe.
I recently caught up with the main man, Joe Michelangelo, Director of Fairfield’s Public Works Department.
He noted the hard work the department has had to put in the last few weeks. “Back to back to back snow, third storm in about 10 days taxes the guys, trucks, equipment, material and salt (of which there are shortages in the state)."
Here are some statistics he shared with me.
Salt used: For minor storms, about 200 tons. For larger storms, about 400-500 tons.
Manpower: 60 people reported for duty (at 5am this morning), each has his own route in town. 275 miles of town roads will be plowed, divided into 27 routes. 27 large dump trucks and 27 smaller dump trucks patrol each route. Main roads will be plowed about once per hour, side roads once every few hours.
Joe noted, “Every driver has at least 10 miles of roads in his route. A good one-third of them are main roads and are a focus for the drivers.”
Non-town roads include: Route 1 (Post Road), Interstate 95, Route 59 (Stratfield Rd), Route 58 (Black Rock Turnpike). These roads will not be plowed by Fairfield’s DPW.
Trucks: Each of the 27 plow routes get one very large dump truck with an 11-12 foot plow on the front, carrying 7-10 tons of salt, which it spreads along the roads from the back. They also get a Mason dump truck, which is smaller for follow up, cul de sac roads, intersections and smaller roads.
Priorities: Train stations, Fire and Police Departments in case of emergency, and main roads (school access).
Snow removal: Excess snow is loaded into dump trucks and is hauled and dumped into Jennings Beach parking lot, the South Benson Marina parking lots, and other town beach lots.
Contractors with permits are also allowed to dump excess snow in these lots if needed. Most of this snow is from local shopping plazas (i.e. stores in the area).
Salt storage: Salt is kept at the Public Works Garage, One Rod Highway/Richard White Highway with a backup supply held at Tunxis Park, “so the guys plowing on that side of town don’t have to travel across town to reload.”
Challenges: Congested residential neighborhoods with cars parked in the streets and the roads not being safe while it is still snowing. “We understand people have to go out and make a living, the roads won’t be in the best conditions until after the storm has stopped.”
Extra Considerations: Roads are also evaluated during and after the storms to be sure they are wide enough and to be sure there is a safe ‘sightline,' which means “to see where we need to knock down mounds/piles so people aren’t having to inch into roads with oncoming traffic in order to see out.”
Tip: Everybody that has a sidewalk in front of their house, by town code, has 24 hours to remove the snow after it stops falling.
Penalty: The town may have the snow removed and charge the resident for the service.
More info or to thank this team: firstname.lastname@example.org or 203.256.3010.
Thank you to our hard working DPW! Stay safe.