Crews clearing city sidewalks with the help of new equipment

It’s not just roads that need to be cleared of snow and ice in the wake of recent winter storms. Sidewalks also have to be shoveled as well, and City of Asheville crews have been hard at work getting pedestrian routes open, an effort aided by two new tractors brought in to help the effort.

An ordinance adopted by Asheville City Council in October makes it the responsibility of property owners to clear sidewalks adjacent to their properties, and the city has plenty of its own sidewalks to take care of.

Work resumed on Saturday clearing high-traffic stretches and parking decks in the Downtown Business District, with crews taking on the snow with shovels. But even with their numbers ranging from 12 to 20, it was soon obvious that shovels would not be enough, despite operating in 12-hour shifts. And persistent snow meant revisiting the same expanses over again.

“There’s so many miles of sidewalk, it’s just too much to handle with shovels,” says Chris Daniels of the city’s Streets Division. “We wore out a few shovels.”

With the tractors, the crews are able to clear sidewalks much quicker and using less staff hours. “We can do it in one pass,” Daniels says.

Besides increasing the city’s ability to respond to snow events, the tractors will prove useful for a variety of warmer-weather duties, says Public Works Director Cathy Ball.

With the snow breaking, the crews have now moved into areas of the city outside downtown that also require attention, aided by GIS data that shows specific stretches of sidewalk that fall under the City of Asheville’s responsibility.