Jones noted that the reduction in the city's fleet, which took place in 2004-2005, has had unintended consequences on the city's response time, now that the city has faced the highest snow totals since 1999-2000. The previous fleet reduction resulted in the sale of 17 dump trucks and 19 four-wheel drive pick-up trucks. Those vehicles, a significant asset to the snow removal program, were not replaced. As a result, the response time per route increased from 45 minutes to a minimum of 90 minutes.
"The reduced fleet, as well as personnel cutbacks, along with freezing cold temperatures, has impacted the city's response time to the recent winter storm," said Mayor Jones. "What is clear to me is that it is imperative that we equip the city with the vehicles, machinery and supplies that are needed to perform the necessary functions and provide timely and efficient service to the residents of the city of Richmond."
The Chief Administrative Officer laid out a number of steps the city is taking:
- Snow removal crews will begin plowing at a 2" accumulation, instead of the current 3" accumulation.
- The Administration will institute a policy of clearing all priority one and priority two roads within 48 hours.
- The purchase of 4 highway plows; 12 tailgate spreaders; 4 dual edge reversible plows (barrel trucks) has been authorized.
- A complete inventory of all city drivers will be conducted to determine the needs and qualifications for equipment operation.
- City inspectors will be provided with four-wheel drive pick-up trucks capable of maintaining a plow and spreader for snow removal. The city will cease purchasing sedans for inspectors, as they are not feasible for alternate use in inclement weather.
- Enter into agreements with existing city contractors and others who possess heavy equipment to augment city snow removal forces.
- Purchase plows and spreaders to be placed on loan to new or existing city contractors to facilitate snow removal.
- Make sure the pending new fleet of 23 solid waste trucks can be fitted with plows to complement the snow removal effort.
- Cross train equipment operators in the departments of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities and Public Utilities to augment snow removal forces.