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Trucks work to haul away snow

BY ALLIE JOHNSON | FEBRUARY 09, 2011 7:10 AM

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Fewer than 2 miles outside downtown Iowa City, a mountain of snow at least 10 feet tall and the length and width of a college classroom is forming. And growing by the hour.

Every five minutes Tuesday morning, another full dump truck pulled up and added to the mound in a field outside Iowa City’s “Bus Barn,” 1200 Riverside Drive. Outside City Hall, five waited in line at 7 a.m. for workers on smaller tractors to fill them with more snow.

Nearly a week after a massive blizzard, trucking companies continue to haul truckload after truckload of snow away from downtown. And they still have a week to go.

Jerry’s Hauling, Leif McGowan Trucking, and Finnegan Trucking have been working to remove as much snow as possible from Iowa City streets.

“We’ve got bulldozers down there pushing the pile higher and higher,” said Leif McGowan, the owner of Leif McGowan Trucking.

He said the extremely cold temperatures are making things difficult.



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“It’s getting interesting,” McGowan said. “The longer it takes, the colder it is, piles like this get real hard, and it’s hard on equipment and on the snowblowers.”

The companies use 10 trucks at a time, starting at 11 p.m. and ending in the morning every day to pile and break up the snow, McGowan said.

“The parking lots are getting it right now, and we just got the Burlington Street bridge cleared out this morning,” he said on Tuesday.

John Sobaski, assistant superintendent for the Iowa City Street Division, said he didn’t have an exact dollar amount, but removal of snow has been costly.

“It’s always an expense,” he said. “There’s overtime, use of equipment, and the use of trucks alone cost about $60 an hour.”

Sobaski said they will continue the process Tuesday night by removing snow from metered parking downtown.

“We are catching up,” he said. “We are removing snow from the ramps and cross walks and making them reasonable for pedestrians.”

Though the companies have been working nightly to rid the area of snow, there’s a lot more work to do.

“Requests continue to come in for cars and additional plowing,” Sobaski said. “There are calls about not being able to access mail and delivery … just ongoing problems and concerns.”

The University of Iowa has also worked to remove snow in “high-priority” areas.

Bob Brooks, associate director of building and landscape services for Facilities Management, said workers have been removing snow since Feb. 3, and they will most likely work another week to haul the large piles.

Brooks said the university dumps all the snow at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Center near Melrose Avenue and Mormon Trek Boulevard.

The normal budget for snow removal is approximately $120,000 a year, and while Brooks said the department has not yet gone over budget, the massive volume of snow might push it a little over this year.

“It depends on how the rest of the winter goes, if we get heavy snow or normal snow,” Brooks said. “I think we are pretty much on track, but it’s hard to say this early.”


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