The results of a recent meeting with Bettendorf’s Department of Public Works (DPW) director, Bryan Schmidt and its operations manager, Kris Hatfield, served as a useful review and exchange of information Riverdale residents should keep in mind for the upcoming winter season.

Performance in the past two snow events

The City shared observations and concerns from residents with DPW related to timeliness of service provided and over-all quality, specifically as it related to the need to plow closer to the curbs in the Havens Acres neighborhood. A considerable amount of time was spent reviewing GPS reports produced by DPW that showed where and when their trucks were plowing in Riverdale – some of those GPS maps are provided below. More information could be obtained about a particular truck and/or snow event, but the maps reviewed showed that DPW had not only provided the service as specified in our 28E agreement with Bettendorf, but that they could also help us better understand how the streets were plowed and what could be done by both parties to improve plow quality and satisfaction.

One of the more interesting facts presented was the time required to plow Riverdale’s 9 lane-miles of streets. The new contractor (Bettendorf DPW) took less than half the time (and less than half the cost) to plow the City’s streets compared to the time required by our previous contractor for similar snow events.

Adjustments to be made by Bettendorf DPW

For future snow events, the City requested and DPW agreed to make sure the major hills in Riverdale (Fenno, Manor and, at some point, Madison) are brined prior to snowfall. Although brining would not have substantially changed conditions on the November 11th event (there was rain prior to the snowfall that would have washed away the salt brine), the preparatory work done to the City’s roads are expected to make later plows more effective and the streets/hillsides safer.

The only exception to this agreement will be when the street temperature is too low to make brining the street effective. At those low temperatures, there is not any substance you can put on the road’s surface to generate melt that would not cause damage to the roadways.

DPW also agreed to pay close attention to designated school bus stops and the bus stop in Havens Acres to make sure those areas are well-plowed and safe for pedestrians/students waiting on mass transit.

Adjustments residents can make to ensure a better plow

There are some things Riverdale residents can do to make sure the DPW plows are able to do a good job for the City. Among those:

1. If the snow is falling on a Sunday night, make sure your garbage and recycling bins are away from the curb so there’s room to push the snow. The November 11th plow was particularly difficult because not only were there waste and recycling bins up to the curb, many residents had spent time over the weekend bagging leaves. Plow drivers (many of whom were new to the job) were wary of plowing too close to the curb for fear of hitting a rolling bin (which did happen, twice) or some bags of leaves and creating a bigger mess in the street.

2. If you know snow is coming, please put your car in your driveway. Leaving your car parked in the street makes the driver swerve away from the curb to get around your vehicle and leaves a lot of unplowed snow in the street which can freeze and make it all that more difficult to get the street clean later on in the day.

Driveway Snow Removal Tips

3. If possible, create a “landing zone” for snow pushed by the plow in advance of it getting to your driveway (see the diagram to the right). By doing this, you’ll minimize the amount of snow pushed onto the end of your driveway and make getting out and onto Riverdale’s freshly-plowed streets easier.

4. When you’re shoveling or snow-blowing your driveway, make sure you go side-to-side and avoid  pushing your driveway snow into the street. This will help decrease the amount of time DPW’s crews need to work clearing our streets (and save us money in the process) and improves safety for other vehicles by reducing the chance of random ice-spots developing on our main roads.

Notes from the November 11th snow event

Here are notes from Bettendorf DPW about the November 11th snow event that shows the level of detailed information we can review, when required. Please note, the City of Riverdale does not currently intend to review plowing performance on this granular level for every event into the future – but rather, we saw the November 11th event (and concerns raised by citizens) as an appropriate time to dive in and learn what we could to make everyone more successful and satisfied throughout the season.

Please note that these maps and the information provided is not all of the information available on the snow event, but these are images and notes provided to the City by DPW for illustrative purposes (and this web post). Some additional maps were provided as hard-copy print outs in our meeting showing additional plowing activity in the Havens Acres and Fenno neighborhoods, as well. Scans are not currently available for the website.

Finally, it’s important to note that weather conditions for the November 11th event were difficult for every plowing contractor and city public works department. Road and air temperatures were high enough at the start of the event to make brining roads ineffective, Wind and temperatures dropped significantly between the initial and second plowing to cause the roads to be icy and slick and most of the substantial removal/clean-up of roads didn’t occur until after the snow stopped – well past when students and workers had to leave their residences for the day.

While Riverdale residents may feel particularly aggrieved – concerned the City was “forgotten” by the Bettendorf Public Works Department because we’re not Bettendorf – both City Council Member Anthony Heddleston and Mayor Mike Bawden came away from the meeting feeling convinced that Bettendorf DPW did the best job they could given the weather conditions and that the relationship memorialized in the recently amended 28E was beneficial to the City.