City, county workers plowing through the difficulties
BY P.J. LASSEK & BRIAN BARBER World staff writers
Thursday, February 10, 2011
2/10/11 at 7:04 AM
Get continuing coverage of the weather in Tulsa and watch videos and slideshows from the storm.
Double dose: Tulsa’s seasonal total is 26.1 inches, leaving a 1924 record in the cold.
Second round of precipitation covers huge swath of state.
Some areas get 2 feet of new snow.
Two more snow records fall.
Weather forecasters feel a different chill in the air.
Clinics working to catch up on missed appointments.
A bumpy road back: Airport’s traffic reduced, but most flights resuming.
Retailers struggle with the effects of the second winter storm.
As Tulsa's seasonal snowfall record was toppled by noon Wednesday, weary crews were again out in full force clearing the city's streets.
"At first it was like the sky started to fall, and then it stopped. Everyone may be inconvenienced, but we're all alive," said Paul Strizek of the Public Works Department.
The National Weather Service reported that this storm's 5.7 inches, added to the 20.4 inches Tulsa has already received this winter, totals 26.1 inches, breaking an 88-year-old record.
With 10 private contractors joining the city crews and a more powdery snowfall than before, many of the problems that workers have faced with the snow removal have been resolved, Strizek said.
Strizek stressed, however, that a lot of work remains to be done and the city is focusing on the heavily traveled streets and hilly areas.
The private contractors are only plowing streets, while city crews are plowing and applying salt where necessary, he said. The rise in temperatures predicted for the weekend should help "tremendously," Strizek said.
"The fact is that we do have a layer of salt in the layers of snow, somewhere, and the heat will help the salt melt the ice," he said.
As of noon Wednesday, the city had spent $359,482 on overtime for Public Works employees and salt for the current storms. That amount does not include overtime for city utility crews who are assisting or the costs of the private contractors.
In downtown Tulsa, the morning commute was fairly smooth as front-end loaders worked to clear the main streets. As snow continued to fall, police reported that city streets were driveable, although motorists were warned to be cautious and avoid travel if they could.
"The roads are a lot better than they were the last blizzard," Tulsa Police Officer Jason Willingham said Wednesday morning. "I came in from the north, and it's very snow-packed obviously, but it's not to the point you can't get through."
Willingham said police responded to a few collisions overnight, but 911 calls for police had been light.
Waterlines, buses and trash: The city continues to battle waterline breaks due to the extreme cold.
By late afternoon, utility crews were working eight breaks, one of which was a 16-inch line in midtown.
Through this second winter wave, Tulsa Transit continued to run bus service on all its fixed routes, general manager Bill Cartwright said.
But most of the routes have only one bus in operation. That's because several of the fleet's buses are out of service due to damage sustained during last week's storm, he said, urging riders to be patient.
Tulsa Transit's Lift Program paratransit service was only in operation Wednesday for dialysis appointments.
The bus system's nightline service is in operation but avoiding side streets because of the snow, Cartwright said.
Tulsa trash crews started their Wednesday routes late because of the morning snowfall. City officials said the routes would not be completed and asked customers to leave their refuse at the curb Thursday and Friday until it is picked up.
Those with questions about the trash service are directed to the Mayor's Action Center at 596-2100.
County roads: Tulsa County crews were working around the clock to clear 727 miles of roadways and 190 bridges that the county is responsible for in unincorporated areas, said Tom Rains, interim Tulsa County engineer.
"I came in on Avery Drive and West 21st Street (Wednesday morning)," Rains said. "The snow was packed, but the roads were passable and I thought in pretty good shape."
Rains reported no major problems for road crews.
The Ray Jordan Tulsa County Administration Buil-ding was closed Wednesday, the fifth time in a little more than a week that county employees have been told to stay home.
World staff writers Jarrel Wade and Kevin Canfield contributed to this story.
Original Print Headline: Plowing through the difficulties
P.J. Lassek 581-8382 Brian Barber 581-8322
Phil Lehrman delivers mail Wednesday to houses adjacent to Kendall-Whittier Elementary School. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
Elisha Rumple shovels snow Wednesday at the QuikTrip on East 11th Street between Harvard and Delaware avenues. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Workers clear snow Wednesday in front of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center at Third Street and Cincinnati Avenue during the winter storm. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World