Applications and Innovations
Schneider says that with the current economy, agencies need to be looking more at pooling resources. “When you’re doing snow removal, when talking about boundaries and who does what, and when talking about material storage, sharing resources can make a huge difference,” he says.
Sharing resources clearly then has its advantages with cost and product availability. But that, in itself, isn’t enough. The way these shared facilities are structured and set up is critical. First and foremost, Schneider says, is “you better trust and respect each other because there are a lot of issues when doing a combined facility such as ‘Who is keeping track of who takes what?’ and ‘Who is paying for what?’ You better have a process for that and know how to split your costs.”
There is the potential for problems or discrepancies, especially if a variety of products is being used. “You need to either agree to use the same products or figure out a process to handle two different products. I have known some agencies that have combined for regional facilities and it has ended up like a bad divorce. They accuse each other of stealing product,” Schneider says.
Schneider says that’s why with the new facility, his agency loads the product out and then bills the agency taking the product. “We track it all,” he says. “I buy all the product and then bill them for what they use. It makes great collaboration between us.”
The collaboration doesn’t end there. The county has a fuel site across the street from the salt storage facility and all the agencies use that. “It’s not just salt you can share,” Schneider points out. “We go over there to get fuel. If we were to get it at the station, we’d pay a lot more. They have bulk tanks. And sharing a fuel facility means there is only one site to maintain for everyone.”
Schneider says the agencies also share wash facilities for their trucks and road and winter maintenance equipment. “I think you just have to be innovative,” Schneider says. “The bottom line is that everyone saves money when you collaborate. With times being the way they are economically, agencies need to be looking more at resourcing together.”
Schneider also demonstrates that sharing doesn’t have to be a strictly structured operation. “I’m not afraid to call over to the county and state and ask to borrow something,” he says. “I’ve borrowed road graders…I even borrowed operators this past winter. You can be very creative with this.”
In New York state, some of the salt storage facilities are available for smaller municipalities, school districts, and airport authorities, for example, to store their salt. “We’ll load it up for them and keep track of it,” explains Michael H. Lashmet II, P.E, the snow and ice program engineer for the New York State Department of Transportation’s (NYSDOT) Office of Transportation Maintenance. “There are times, such as with a salt shortage or delays in deliveries, where we can assist neighboring municipalities.”
NYSDOT also has set up municipal contracts across the state that allow towns to plow state highways and then pay them for their services. “We have a total 169 municipal contracts with various towns, villages and counties,” Lashmet says. “We have 43,000 lane miles across the state. State forces maintain 35,380 lane miles. The 7,620-mile balance is maintained by municipal contractors.” In more remote areas where the NYSDOT doesn’t have a facility nearby, a contracted municipality can clear our highways in a more timely fashion than the DOT could from its closest facility.”v
Web Exclusives: >>www.BetterRoads.com
* How Oldcastle Materials’s APAC-Missouri solved its storage issue and protected its salt with a ClearSpan fabric structure.
* After the Storm: 120-mph tornado ripped down a salt dome in one of Northwest Indiana’s most heavily snowed regions, fast-tracked work replaced the previous wood-and-shingle facility with a Cover-All dome.
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