Memphis close to maxing out fleet of salt and sand trucks

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Over the past three days, Mid-South drivers have been forced to deal with snow and icy roads, after a blast of winter weather shot through the area.  Though crews in Memphis spent the weekend spreading ice and sand, many main streets remained slick.

According to Memphis police, since Friday, officers have responded to 315 calls to help with crashes along 3,400 miles of icy Bluff City roadways.

But Robert Kenecht, an administrator for Memphis Public Works, says the city is nearly maxing out its fleet.

"We have about 24 trucks in all, but on average we used 19," Kenecht said.

Kenecht allowed our cameras to capture preps for Monday night's salt down.  Drivers make a grid of the city, assigning each gridded area one salt truck and sand truck.  Bridges, overpasses, inclines and declines are given first priority.

"Those are the ones that get the first attention because they have the most risk for the traveling citizens," he said.

Then, the secondary risks are assessed.

"Our fire stations, our police stations, our emergency rooms," Kenecht said.

Major thoroughfares are third on the list.  Without a solid thaw over the weekend, the ice still coating much of Memphis has drivers feeling the pain of no plows on the city's fleet.

"We have not really had a frequent use for it, so we haven't invested in it," Kenecht said of the city's fleet. "We invested in our de-icing or anti-icing operations, but we are re-evaluating the necessity for plows."

But money is tight, and Memphis Public Works has no set budget.  They make do with $6 million a year, which covers everything from paving roads to melting ice.

For now, they ask for patience, and for drivers to remember speed is the enemy on frosty roads.

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