Discarded brush overwhelming street workers

COLUMBIANA – The street department is getting overwhelmed with the amount of brush being put out by residents for pickup.

Street Superintendent Jesse Wilson said the department has hauled away 138 loads of brush this season.

“Now we are picking up full trees. It has gotten out of hand. I don’t really have a solution other than maybe we can have a centralized placed where they can take it,” he said.

Councilman Dick McBane said he observed a “tremendous” amount of brush out for pickup, and Councilman Dick Simpson said residents should not expect the department to haul away their landscape refuse.

“If there is a storm and there is a lot of brush down, the city should come pick it up but if I do a lot of landscaping and tear it out and expect the city to come pick it up, that’s not right. Maybe we should set some rules on that,” Simpson said.

Wilson said the brush is getting worse every year, and that the department is now traveling up to 1,200 miles annually.

“It’s very time consuming,” he said.

The department also picked up about 100 loads of leaves this year. It averages about 160 to 180 loads for the roughly month-and-a-half spent on leaf pickup each year, he said.

He also said time could be saved through the purchase of a new dump truck with a brine application feature. Using brine between storms means less time spent on the road plowing, he explained.

On Tuesday the department began plowing snow around 5 a.m., about a half-hour after snow began to fall.

“We need to be able to do it quicker … the only way to do it quicker is to add more trucks. I’d really like to add at least one next year. I’d like to dedicate that to housing developments,” he said.

It used to take the department two hours to plow the entire city but that is no longer possible since the city has grown, and the crew is continuing to use the same four trucks as before.

“Now it kills us, it takes too long,” he said.

The state’s recent salt shortage prompted him to look into the brine alternative, he added.

A brine truck has about a 10- to 15-year life expectancy, and installing a brine application system on one of the existing trucks would cost around $130,000, he said.

Ultimately, he would like to have both – a new brine truck and the application installed on an existing truck.

The department also needs a front end loader to replace the 1970 model back end loader used for salting the roads.

The loader is experiencing mechanical and transmission problems and takes five to 10 minutes to start in cold weather, he said.

A new loader would cost around $120,000 through the purchasing co-op, which is about 45 percent less than what the machine would normally cost, he added.

The department is pursuing grant funding to offset some of the costs of new equipment.

Councilwoman Mary Harold Calinger wished to thank Dickey and Sons for donating equipment for snow removal on Feb. 17.