Bracing To Battle Snow On The Roads And Runways

Snow plows lined up in a warehouse.
[Adrian Ma / Ideastream]
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Cleveland is spending millions to prepare for snow season, and it's getting some help from the Federal Aviation Administration. 

Two years ago, the FAA fined the city $735,000 for failing to adequately remove snow and ice from the tarmac at Hopkins International Airport. In a later 2016 settlement, that fine was reduced to $200,000.

Since then, a spokeswoman for the FAA said the agency "has been actively engaged with Cleveland on enhancements to the snow and ice removal program, including staffing, management oversight, and identification of necessary snow removal equipment." To help pay for 63 new pieces of snow removal equipment over the next few years, and the construction of a new equipment storage facility, the FAA has chipped in about $28 million--about two-thirds of the total estimated cost of $44 million.

"We've added in our manpower and we've added in our equipment that's available," said Robert Kennedy, who was hired as Director of Port Control overseeing Hopkins earlier this year.

And to get ready for the first big snowfall, Kennedy said a crew of about 80 airport employees have begun running twice-a-week drills to practice the new snow removal procedures.

From Runways to the Roads

Michael Cox, head of the Public Works department, which oversees snow response for Cleveland, said they have about a hundred snow-removal vehicles and 24,000 tons of salt ready in case of a blizzard.

"We have approximately 8,000 residential streets in this city that we'll be cleaning," he said, "and we'll be cleaning them 24 hours a day." And starting this winter, trucks will be monitored using GPS, to help track which roads have been plowed.

Even with all that, Cox warns that any snowfall over 6-inches will take time to clear. In some cases, he said residential side streets won't see a plow for 2 or 3 days after the snow stops.

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