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Crews kept routes clear of snow, ice
Analysis shows city trucks were moving over roads during last big storm.

By Ryan McNeill and John Estus Published: December 17, 2006
City workers apparently cleared streets as promised during a recent storm that dumped several inches of snow and caused dozens of injury accidents, a geographic analysis by The Oklahoman shows.

Trucks equipped with snow plows and rock salt repeatedly moved along planned emergency snow routes, data show.

A majority of Oklahoma City residents — at least 450,000 of the more than 500,000 counted for the 2000 census — live within a mile of where city trucks traveled, the analysis shows.

It did not include hundreds of thousands of people living in other cities throughout the metro area, which had more than 1 million people during the 2000 census.

"People were happy with our efforts for the most part,” City Manager Jim Couch said. "Of course, some always aren't.”

The analysis by The Oklahoman included data generated by 17 city dump trucks, which carry devices that record location and movement using global positioning satellites. The data was combined with population totals by the U.S. Census Bureau and analyzed using mapping software.

City officials were unable to provide data from seven smaller tracker-equipped trucks, saying the units didn't store data from the storm. The seven affected trucks were smaller, carrying half the amount of sand as others used during the storm and weren't equipped with plows.

Workers logged 4,700 man hours and dumped 4,000 tons of rock salt that included 1,200 gallons of a magnesium chloride additive, said Mike DeGiacomo, streets superintendent for Oklahoma City. The storm cost taxpayers about $254,000, though overtime expenses haven't been calculated.

"It's not a matter of cost,” Couch said. "Citizens need to rely upon those routes during winter events.”

The storm dropped about 4½ inches of snow in Oklahoma City, though local amounts varied, said Erin Maxwell, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

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