"When we're finished plowing or salting our assigned areas, we call around to see who needs help," said Roger Lysle, Kennett Township's supervisor of road maintenance.Lysle was describing the cooperative working environment among his snow removal crew members. What's interesting is that he was also describing his working relations with the seven closely knit townships in southern Chester County that help each other not only during emergencies but also in routine purchasing of staples like salt and stone. These townships have formed a "co-op" that shares equipment, staff, and purchasing power.
Sharing resources makes a lot of sense, given their value. Kennett Township has 5 trucks, two of which are basically pickups with spreaders. But three are 39,000-pound gross weight trucks with plows and spreaders that each cost well over $100,000. Another good management practice Lysle uses is to keep part-time plow drivers on call in case conditions become extreme. In addition, all of Kennett's trucks are linked to each other and to the trucks in nearby townships by radio contact.
Lysle said, "Our whole snow and ice management process is fairly straightforward. It's basically salt the roads, plow them, and salt again." However, the timing of these three operations is crucial. For example, a freshly salted road should not be plowed or the benefit of the salt is lost. And if freezing rain is expected after a snow fall, it's best to let the ice cover the snow instead of the bare road.
To get his timing right, or as right as possible, Lysle's source for weather predictions is the same one most techno-savvy township residents use: a computer logged on to www.weather.com. He said it takes about an hour and a half to do a round of salting on the 51 miles of roads for which the township is responsible. The state is responsible for the remaining 19 miles, primarily Spring Mill, Burnt Mill, Old Kennett (Kaolin), Rt. 1, and Rt. 82.
For a typical snow fall, when freezing rain is not expected, Lysle said, "We wait for about 2 inches to fall before we start pushing it around." He has divided the township into quarters and sends one plow/salt-spreader into each quarter. His crew spends about three and a half hours doing a round of plowing. Each street is driven twice; first one side is plowed, then the other.
For the salting operation, Lysle uses a mixture of half salt and half stone (little pieces of sharp-faceted rock about half an inch across). This formula seems to work best for Kennett's roads to melt ice or prevent it from forming and to provide some traction and anti-skid properties. Lysle said, "The downside of the stone is that it builds up in low areas and gutters, but we come around in the spring and pick up what's left up."
Lysle's greatest fear is that one of his trucks might break down or a truck motor might go out. His road crew does the routine maintenance on the trucks-tire work, oil changes, lubrication, and cleaning-but he contracts out for major work. He says he is most grateful for the cooperation he receives from residents and the minimum friction experienced between them and his crew. When he plans for street repairs, cleaning, or tree work to be done in a neighborhood, he places notices on car windshields.
For questions about street repairs or snow removal, Roger Lysle can be reached at 484-221-0897