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The Public Works Operations Division consists of an 18-person crew whose prime responsibility is the maintenance of road and drainage infrastructure in Scarborough.

  • Snow & ice control
  • Street sweeping
  • Line striping & graphics
  • Spot repair of surface pavement
  • Sidewalk, shoulder, curb, guardrail maintenance
  • Roadside mowing
  • Clean, repair, replace, & install drainage structures (catch basins, culverts, and ditches)
  • Traffic light & street sign maintenance
  • Public Works facility maintenance
  • Overseeing landfill/waste/recycling issues
  • Tree maintenance
  • Beach cleaning
  • Cemetery maintenance
  • Providing assistance to other town departments and various local civic groups

Adequately maintaining road shoulders and ditches extends the life of pavement and improves road safety for users. Improper or inadequate drainage seriously affects the life of asphalt pavement. Fully functional shoulders, ditches and drainage structures prevent water from entering the road base and damaging the road surface through freeze/thaw cycles. In addition, ruts, depressions, and holes can be a safety hazard to those using the road. Roadside mowing is important for visibility for vehicular traffic and part of the maintenance and operation of shoulders & ditches. It allows storm water to properly flow to storm drains & ditches.

Winter Storm Operations

Our goal is to remove snow and ice from 350 lane-miles of road as rapidly and efficiently as possible to enable mobility and safe driving conditions. An effective transportation system is key to economic development and citizens have come to expect clear roads after a storm.  Additionally, snow and ice control is a Public Safety concern as police, fire and ambulances need to be able to reach places where their services are urgently needed.  

two trucks plowing snow

During a storm, the crews plow only travel lanes in order to provide mobility to as many areas in the least amount of time. The crews will return and widen the streets at the storm’s end. Snowplow trucks traveling with their plows up does not mean they are failing to perform their duties. They may be headed for a designated plowing area or en route for fuel or repair. During snow plowing Public Works’ personnel do not have a shift change. If a storm is of long duration, the crews continue to perform their services around the clock until the job is completed.

Each plowable storm is assigned 18 trained employees with 18 pieces of snow plowing or sanding equipment.  Public Works realizes that it is an inconvenience on the public’s part to have driveway openings and walkways obstructed with snow repeatedly during a storm, however, it is necessary to enable safe conditions for all motorists and pedestrians.  The length of a storm and amount of snow dictate the number of times a piece of equipment will make a pass down a street.  At minimum, two passes are made in each direction.  The length and amount of snow dictates the maximum number of passes that are necessary.  Our first responsibility is to open the main arterials as they are key to maintaining a steady flow of traffic.  Each storm is different.  Such things as temperature, time of day, traffic conditions, rate of snowfall and texture of snow are just a few factors to be taken into consideration. The amount of snowfall can be deceptive.  For instance a small storm during a weekday rush hour can cause major problems, while an equivalent storm on the weekend or late at night may cause little trouble.  Light snow & heavy winds will cause continual drifting & ice buildup.  Heavy wet snow will bring down trees and wires and cause additional equipment strain.  Snow turning to rain will cause low areas to flood requiring immediate attention to eliminate further problems.  Once a storm has ended, it takes approximately six to eight hours to complete the snow plowing of Scarborough’s 175 miles of roads. The average individual plow run is 10 road-miles (20 lane-miles).  Our trained crews take pride in clearing the town’s roads and are dedicated to performing in a safe and professional manner.  

Salt, Sand, & Magnesium Chloride Distribution

Technology is always changing even in the ways we maintain safe roads during the winter season.  Throughout the years we have always tried to keep up with technology to make winter operations more efficient, environmentally friendly, cost-effective and, above all, safer for the public and the public works’ crew.

All of our units are equipped with a ‘Dickey-John’ spreader system for applying salt, sand and magnesium chloride.  This system allows us to program the rate of application depending on the material being used.  It also allows us to keep accurate information on amount of materials, type of material, distance, and time used.  At the end of each storm event the Dickey-John system data in each truck is downloaded electronically.  This gives us the ability to track individual storms and season totals for each unit, therefore, helps determine the budget for the next winter season.

In the past we’ve used salt, sand, and calcium chloride to treat winter road conditions.  Two years ago Public Works introduced the use of magnesium chloride and eliminated the use of calcium chloride.  

There were several reasons for making this change:

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Less corrosive to vehicles and public works’ equipment
  • Fast-acting and longer-lasting
  • Less cost – magnesium chloride $.90/gallon, calcium chloride $1.57/gallon

Measurable savings were accomplished by using more of the magnesium chloride at the lower costs. Sand  application has been reduced generating additional cost savings in street sweeping ($10,000 in 2013).  We are finding less sand material in our storm drain system resulting in less time to clean catch-basins which is another cost-saving measure and environmentally friendly as well.  We are always finding better ways to use the resources we have available to us.  This year we will use the knowledge gained from last year to make the product more efficient.