Storm proved costly for Medford budget

Medford's recent memorable snowstorm that hit Dec. 6 cost the city $30,000 — twice the average yearly budget for snow removal.

Cory Crebbin, Medford Public Works director, told the City Council Thursday that the city had prepared for the snow. The National Weather Service predicted the snow would begin falling at 2 p.m. on Dec. 6. "The snow started falling at 2:15," he said.

Four trucks distributing sand on the streets worked continuously, he said. The first sander was out on the roads at 2:30 p.m., he said.

Unlike previous snowstorms, the temperature plummeted, creating icy conditions on roadways. Snowplows are generally ineffective on icy roads, he said. Normally after a snowstorm, the temperature rises a bit.

Crebbin said snowplows would have been ineffective because of the number of cars on the roads.

"You can't run a snowplow through bumper-to-bumper traffic," he said.

Snowplows could be used on residential streets, but the plows pile the snow up into berms along driveways, Crebbin said.

In other parts of the country, people are used to digging the snow out of their driveway.

In Medford, many residents don't even have a snow shovel, so it would be difficult to clear their driveways, he said.

Crebbin said de-icers were ineffective because the temperatures dropped too low. Salting roads is illegal in Oregon, except for a pilot project on the Siskiyou Summit, because it can contaminate waterways.

Sanding roads is also problematic, even though it is relatively easy to distribute.

The city has to clean up the sand from roadways to prevent it from getting washed into storm drains, Crebbin said.

In a typical year, the city spends $14,000 on snow removal.

Crebbin said the city has enough equipment to handle most snow years.

"It's not like you can be prepared for all events," he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.

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