Skip to main content

South Jordan Journal

Behind the storm: How streets are plowed

Feb 23, 2022 06:45PM ● By Collin Leonard

Snow plow loaded down with salt to keep roads from freezing. (The City of South Jordan)

By Collin Leonard | [email protected]

Salt Lake County receives an average of 54.2 inches of snowfall a year, almost double the country’s average. While it is easy to spot the snow plows in South Jordan during a major storm event, it takes a great deal of coordination behind the scenes to keep the streets safe for residents.

Tammy Pyfer, a resident of the city for the past 7 years, expressed her gratitude during the public comment period of a recent city council meeting. “My husband and I, every time it has snowed over the past six-and-a-half years, say ‘Wow! They do a really great job in South Jordan.’”

Unlike other, less visible jobs in the public works department, the success of the snow removal fleet can be judged by anyone driving the streets of the city. What is not widely known is how many people it takes working around the clock to keep the streets clear.

 All crews are on call at all times for storm events, and the crews generally consist of city employees with other full time responsibilities including asphalt patching, concrete repair, signage installation, water system maintenance and more.

These 52 drivers work alternating 12-hour shifts when the need arises, driving around the clock to keep up with the storm. The city owns a fleet of 10-wheeler plow trucks used for the major roadways, and 1-ton trucks (such as F350’s) for neighborhoods and smaller side streets. Each vehicle must be maintained, started regularly and blades inspected to be repaired when necessary.

Behind the scenes, the front office fields calls from residents and works closely with the police department to respond quickly to accidents and cars blocking roads. Jordan Allen is the street manager and oversees these operations. “All my guys go above and beyond during a storm. It’s the one time of the year all departments come together for one goal,” Allen said.

When talking about the state of the vehicles at his disposal, Allen is grateful he is “supported by the fleet manager who budgets for top of the line equipment,” but acknowledges that he can always use more hands to help.

South Jordan is unique in that it was one of the first cities to build its own pre-treat facility. Pre-treat is a salty brine mixture that can be sprayed on roadways in anticipation of a storm. The salt helps prevent dangerous icy conditions. Allen credits the team of talented engineers at the city who worked hard to develop methods that other cities have begun emulating.

How to react to storm weather in your area? Allen says the first line of defense in bad weather is time. The city must get 26 people to dispatch quickly and safely, and work hard through the storm to keep on top of build up. The second option is calling 801-466-HELP if a driveway or mailbox is blocked. This will generate a work order that will be handled as quickly as possible. “Lots of times, complaints during storms are addressed anyway, so it’s helpful to give the trucks time to work.” When driving, the general rules apply. Slow down, give plows a safe following distance, and let them get you where you need to go safely.