Menominee Public Works employees clear snow last week from 10th Avenue near 10th Street. Crews in Menominee and Marinette have been staying on top of the snow removal and salting. EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
Menominee Public Works employees clear snow last week from 10th Avenue near 10th Street. Crews in Menominee and Marinette have been staying on top of the snow removal and salting. EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
MENOMINEE - Long before most people are awake on a snow-covered, wintery day, members of an elite crew of plow drivers and salters are out clearing the main roads of area communities.

Both Menominee and Marinette have highly experienced personnel in their respective Public Works departments. The winter of 2013-14 has been especially brutal in terms of cold temperatures. High winds and snow only add to the mix. Both cities are keeping a close eye on equipment, overtime and supplies.

"We have plenty of salt based on previous winters," said Menominee City Engineer Valerie Mellon. "We have plenty unless we have a really harsh April, then we might be running low on salt. Our salt shed right now is only about a third full, but we'll be hauling salt next (this) week filling it back up."

"We started Nov. 4 with our first salting event. To date we've used 1,264 ton," reported Marinette City Engineer Brian Miller. "We project in the spring of the year the amount of salt we'll need for the upcoming season. Last year we ordered 1,500 ton for this season."

Miller said the city's salt supply is good - and when combined with what was left from last year the city has a total of 2,100 ton available this season.

"As of right now we've cut back a little on our salting," he said. "We've actually used a salt/sand blend on our side streets to try to conserve on the salt usage."

Meanwhile across the river, Mellon said the city is already about two-thirds of the way through its snow budget. "If we have a regular February and a regular March, we'll be OK," she said. "But if we have a February like January we might be out of snow budget by March, so we're watching it. We're minimizing overtime as much as we can to make the budget stretch as far as we can."

Marinette crews have already been called out for 25 salting events this season. They've had to face some severe conditions with high winds, snow and wind chills of minus 30 and 35 degrees.

"They're tired. We've had quite a few snow events this year so far," said Miller. "When compared to last year, we're way ahead of last year."

While many residents are already facing a problem of running out of places to throw the snow, the city has a lot of room for dumping. Crews have had to clear snowbanks from Main Street a couple times this season and have knocked down banks along Stephenson Street and Hall Avenue, not to mention the Interstate Bridge.

Menominee crews have wrapped up snowbank removal from the downtown and 10th Avenue along with areas near schools and key intersections. City crews have also been assisting Infrastructure Alternatives in removing snow from around fire hydrants. Mellon said crews this winter also removed snowbanks on 13th Street, between 30th and 34th avenues, in order to allow engineers to survey the area for a project scheduled for the summer of 2015.