The battle of the plows, the city and complaints

Carter Secor, Staff Reporter

When snowfall hits towns and communities in the Midwest, it usually hits hard. Wisconsin is one of the states known for its stereotypically large snowfalls, and the cleanup after these storms can be frustrating for those who are trying to get to work or school. In Whitewater, this scenario is no different, but with a college campus, the frustration and complaints can be more pronounced and lively.

“The city of Whitewater, I feel, takes forever,” said Darius Sanders, a senior at UW-W, when asked about his feelings on snow removal and how Whitewater treats winter storms. “If I’m off campus or on the streets for instance, it’s awful. It’s almost laughable. I do think it’s an issue, regardless of the size of the city. Like Chicago? It’ll be a blizzard and Chicago will be plowing in the middle of the blizzard, so they’ll have less snow to plow in the mornings. It’s nothing like that here.”

Complaints and frustration like this aren’t rare in Whitewater, whether its questions about response times, or how many plows are operating or where the snow physically goes. The city has faced questions before.

“It really depends on when the snow starts,” said Brad Marquardt, the director of public works for the city of Whitewater, when asked about the city’s policies towards a snowstorm or snowfall. If snow starts in the middle of the night, taking care of it is straightforward. “What we try to do is start in the early morning hours so we can get out where there’s less traffic on the streets and get streets cleared so when people wake up in the morning they’re able to get to work and get to school.”

While discussing the city’s responses, Marquardt also mentioned the challenges the city faces if the snowfall scenario wasn’t so simple, for example, if the snow wasn’t just snow, or if it didn’t hit overnight. In terms of these scenarios, the responses can be different, especially if it’s not just snow, but snow accompanied by rain. If this is the case, Marquardt points out that the city won’t use the salt-brine mix to prevent ice buildup, as it will just wash away due to the rain. If the snow comes during the morning or midday, Marquardt makes a point to say that the city won’t plow down to the bare street, as most of the snow will melt because of the heat build up on the street under the snow.

“It all depends on what Mother Nature is going to throw at us,” said Kelly Freeman, the street and parks superintendent for the city. “In a perfect world, every snow is done before 2 a.m., that’s our normal start time as we like to get going by about 2. If we’ve got minimal snow, up to four inches, we can be through the city by 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. for that morning commute.”

However, the world is not perfect, and snow and winter weather can come at anytime. While it is the city’s responsibility to take care of snow and to make it safe for residents and people to travel in Whitewater, the snow itself can make things difficult for the city to do its job. Whether it’s the timing of the snowfall, or the amount of snow, the conditions can make it hard for snow plow crews to get all the snow gone by the morning commute. While snow removal may seem easy, sometimes the snow doesn’t cooperate, and makes it more difficult than people may think.