BY SARAH R. GREGORY
Clearing snow from Greeneville's streets is a long process for hard-working crews from the town's Public Works Department.
Public Works Director Brad Peters is proud of the work his department's crews have done over the past couple of days.
Crews worked around the clock Tuesday into Wednesday preparing for -- and then dealing with -- the frigid blast that brought temperatures below zero and three inches of snow to the downtown area.
Typically, the department's trucks equipped with snow plows and salt-sprayers begin their routes in areas around hospitals, nursing homes and schools.
From there, crews work to clear hilly areas of the town before moving toward more-frequently-traveled city streets, then residential neighborhoods.
In addition to covering an estimated 100 miles of snow-covered streets per 10-hour shift, Public Works employees have had to modify the way they operate the town's garbage collection services.
Many of the larger garbage trucks, Peters said, are unable to travel areas with large hills when conditions are snowy. That limitation requires the use of smaller garbage trucks with tire chains.
The smaller trucks, however, require two workers per vehicle, whereas the larger vehicles need only one.
"We're spread pretty thin," Peters said.
"Our workers are exhausted," he commented after explaining that some workers were sent home early on Tuesday to rest before returning for an overnight shift beginning at midnight Wednesday.
"We've had people out around the clock since it started snowing," he said in an interview Wednesday.
Dealing with snow from Tuesday was a bit different from the usual situation because the snow occurred in two phases, Peters said.
"It snowed all morning [Tuesday] and by afternoon had slacked off before it started again," he said, explaining that crews had already spread salt in some areas before the snow began to fall.
"So you had salt that was already out, then more snow on top of it" later in the afternoon and evening on Tuesday, he said.
By the Tuesday evening hours, crews were out running again, but were conducting their operations while being mindful of the town's salt supply, Peters said.
By Wednesday, the department had approximately 30 tons of salt still on hand that could be used before a new load could be picked up in Knoxville today.
Peters said the department began spreading salt last weekend and used approximately 60 tons to cover the town's streets.
"We were already running low on salt, so we didn't want to plow [earlier placed salt] out of the way," Peters said.
"The salt is the best way to get rid of it, but sometimes you have to be a bit patient" while waiting for conditions to improve, he said.
Sunny skies on Wednesday were beneficial, Peters said.
"Sunshine mixed with salt will start to work on the snow," he said, noting that remaining salt on the roadways should help prevent many areas from re-freezing, even though some slick spots will remain.
Today crews plan to keep scraping and salting to clear areas in town that remain covered with snow.