Ames, ISU crews hope to not exceed winter maintenance budgets


Emily Hecht/Iowa State Daily

With the chance of more than a month of winter weather still coming, Ames and Iowa State face the possibility of exceeding their budgets for street and sidewalk maintenance.

Colby Siebersma

As winter draws to a close, Ames and Iowa State University street and sidewalk maintenance crews are hoping they won’t go over their winter budgets.

Dave Cole, street maintenance supervisor for the city of Ames, said that he and his crew of up to 40 workers do several things to make sure the streets are safe and drivable.

“Sometimes we will go out the night before a storm and pretreat the streets with a salt brine solution,” Cole said. “The solution makes it so the snow doesn’t attach so much to the street, and it plows off easier.”

Financially, Cole said they are on par with that of a normal winter. Cole said that he and his crew typically respond to 20 “events” during the winter season, which is the exact number they are at as of now.

“The problem is that sometimes we can have another month or so of winter after February, so if the pattern that is going on right now continues, we will likely go over budget,” Cole said.

Cole said the budget for winter is roughly $1 million. One thing Cole uses this money for is to buy salt to de-ice the roads.

“We start the winter with our 1200-ton storage building full of salt, and we have 2500 tons ordered that comes in weekly increments,” Cole said.

Cole said salt costs about $63 per ton.

“Another thing we spend our money on is equipment,” Cole said. “We have two pickups, 11 trucks, three loaders and three backhoes that we can attach plows to.”

Aside from equipment and salt, there are numerous other things their money is used for. Cole said a couple of these expenses are manpower, fuel and occasionally paying outside contractors for extra assistance.

The streets of Ames are not the only concern, though; sidewalks also need attention to ensure safety.

Lester Lawson, manager of campus services for Iowa State, said he and his crew of about 50 workers do their best to make sure the sidewalks on campus are always safe for students.

“For just sidewalk upkeep in the winter, our budget is $150,000,” Lawson said. “This winter has pushed us quite a bit, but I don’t think we will go over budget.”

Lawson said that in addition to clearing the sidewalks of snow, they use a mixture of salt and sand to keep the sidewalks safe from ice and make sure no students are injured from slipping.

Tyler Brick, freshman in civil engineering, said he thinks the sidewalks on campus are maintained nicely.

“Considering how many sidewalks there are on campus that need to be tended to, I think the sidewalk maintenance guys do a great job,” Brick said.