Fuquay-Varina rethinks winter-weather strategy

aramos@newsobserver.comFebruary 6, 2014 

— When a snow storm hit the area last month, some Fuquay-Varina residents questioned why local roads weren’t cleared.

Fuquay-Varina officials say they don’t have the equipment or supplies to treat roads with the brine solution that seemed to work well in other areas, such as Morrisville and Cary.

The town has two salt and sand spreaders and four snow plows.

The state owns major thoroughfares like N.C. 55, but the department of transportation did not pre-treat those roads within town limits, according to the town.

Town Manager Adam Mitchell said he plans to meet with DOT officials over the next few weeks to get a better plan in place for treating town streets during a major snow storm.

“This was an unprecedented event where all 100 (North Carolina) counties were affected,” Mitchell told the Fuquay-Varina Board of Commissioners. “We couldn’t borrow equipment from neighboring counties, and DOT was out handling all of Wake County.”

About a dozen residents commented on the town’s Facebook page during the winter weather. Some said they were upset about the “mismanagement” and lack of progress on the town’s roads. Some defended the town’s limited resources.

Some commentors pointed out that neighboring towns Apex and Holly Springs had clearer streets.

Fuquay-Varina Mayor John Byrne said he got a few calls from residents who were worried about the town’s roads. He commended town staff for doing the best they could.

“We are going to get better,” Byrne said. “We haven’t had a bad snow storm in a while.”

The town tried to get the word out to residents through Facebook and its website that resources were limited, said Commissioner Charlie Adcock.

Cost of brine a concern

Snow doesn’t come often, but maybe the town needs to do more than rely on the DOT in the future, Adcock said.

Fuquay-Varina has looked at adding brine to its inventory over the last five to seven years, but the cost has always been a concern, said Public Works Director Arthur Mouberry.

It would cost about $28,000 for a brine production station, truck dispensing system and off-load pump system, he said.

“Historically, we only receive one severe weather event a year and normally it lasts a day at best,” Mouberry said. “Given the frequency for the need for this type of equipment and the availability of brine from NC DOT to use on their roadway, it has been hard to justify the cost for something that may not be used but once or twice every couple of years.”

Before and during the snow storm, the town treated roads and bridges with salt and sand. Fuquay-Varina used more than 63 tons of a salt and sand mixture between Jan. 25-28.

The day after the snowfall, crews worked from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. applying the salt and sand. The town also tried to remove snow with plows.

On the second day, the state brought two road graders to town to help clear some roads, Mouberry said.

Not all western Wake County towns used a brine solution to treat their roads. Holly Springs used about 125 tons of a mixture that was three parts sand and one part salt, said spokesman Mark Andrews.

Like Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs doesn’t have the mixing tanks, pumps and truck attachments to use brine, Andrews said.

But Holly Springs’ public works department plowed state roads such as the N.C. 55 bypass, Main Street, Holly Springs Road and Sunset Lake Road. The town has seven plows and six salt and sand spreaders.

Ramos: 919-460-2609; Twitter: @AlianaCaryNews

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