Street crews haven't seen heavy snow since '04

Ken Martin looked at the 100 or so Charlotte city street crew members gathered for a snow-removal training program Monday and asked drivers who have been on the job since 2004 to stand up.

“Those are your veterans – learn from them,” Martin, the city's deputy superintendent of streets, told the group.

It has been since February 2004, when more than 13 inches of snow fell in Charlotte, that a major winter storm has hit the region. But the annual training session took place this week, and Martin declared his crews ready for whatever winter brings.

“We're hearing some forecasts of it being wet and cold,” Martin said Tuesday, as he sent crews through final practice drills. “Who knows? We can't get into the business of predicting the winter. We have to be ready.”

Martin said Charlotte's snow and ice control operation will remain largely the same this year.

In Level A conditions, for minimal snow and ice problems, drivers will run nine routes, spreading salt brine or salt on 165 bridges and culverts in the city.

In more serious Level B and C storms, drivers will work in 12-hour shifts, covering 30 routes.

“We've received our shipments of salt, and we're ready once again to spread the salt brine solution in advance of winter storms,” he said.

Martin said that without a major winter weather event for almost five years, Charlotte-area drivers might be out of practice in dealing with ice and snow.

But his drivers should be ready to go.

“We even brought in a simulator, during the week of Oct. 16,” he said.

“It rumbled, like a truck would, and it had our drivers reacting to things like dogs running into the road, or cars parked on the streets. It was a good drill.”