One week ago, we were digging out of the snowstorm that hit Central Oregon. Crews were plowing and sanding around the clock trying to keep the roads open.
Today, much of the snow in Bend has melted and crews are beginning to sweep up all the traction sand and cinders.
Road maintenance agencies sweep up traction sand and gravel because, once the ground is dry and ice-free, the material is slippery to cars, bicycles and pedestrians.
“The amount of sanding rock we have out there, it’s a little too aggressive on those air machines. So today, for example, we’ve got three mechanical broom sweepers out focusing on the arterials and collectors first. Kind of like our priorities in winter ops, we have priorities in sweeping as well,” said David Abbas, Director of Streets & Operations for the City of Bend.
You may have noticed there are different colors of traction sand. The City of Bend uses coarse-ground black basalt, whereas the Oregon Department of Transportation uses red cinders. But they both do the same job.
In just the past week, ODOT applied 1,700 cubic yards of cinders in the Bend area, so there’s a lot to clean up.
“We have big street sweepers that go along and pick up all of this cinder-sand material,” said Kacey Davey, Public Information Officer for ODOT’s Central Region. “They have attachments that clean the sidewalks as they go. It takes about two to three times as long to pick up this material as it does to put down in the first place.”
Speaking of gravel on sidewalks, except in certain problem areas, it is the responsibility of the adjacent landowner to clean up, just like removing snow.
“Along Franklin and some other main corridors, we’ll get some staff out there with backpack blowers and get it off the sidewalk and have the sweeper come in right behind them and pick that up,” Abbas said. “It’s not everywhere in town. We’ve got 900 lane miles. We are definitely not clearing off every sidewalk in town.”
The City of Bend’s swept up traction gravel is used as capping material at Knott Landfill.