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Take a look behind the snow plow
Published: 1/20/2021
It is not that easy. Let’s get that out of the way early. Plowing snow is not just as simple as hopping in the truck, putting the plow down and driving until all the snow is off the road. There’s a science behind clearing snow and ice and a certain mindset one must have when maneuvering an 87,000-pound truck in often treacherous conditions.

It’s why the Novi Snow Team is the best at what they do. Name a scenario and they have likely encountered it…from issues with their trucks and whiteout conditions to inconsiderate drivers and residents who want to make their jobs even harder.

Dean Reid is the one who made the remark about the job not being easy, and that’s saying something for someone who has been clearing snow for the last 23 years. To hear Reid talk about snow plowing is like listening to pilot preparing for takeoff. Once the door of his red truck closes it’s “go” time. There’s switches and buttons in the cabin to control all aspects of the truck, from the underbelly and wing plow to the salt thrower and more.

Even before he pulls out of the garage, he has done his prep work. The humidity and temperature play a big role in the forming of ice as does the road temperature and air temperature. Those numbers factor into how he uses his salt and brine mixture as “salt doesn’t melt snow, brine melts snow.” Once the brine is sprayed on the salt it activates the salt and creates a slush on the ground.

Oh, and we should probably mention that during a major snowstorm, Reid and his colleagues are often in their trucks for upward of 16 hours to clear more than 425 lane miles of roads.

“Every time we get called in to do major and local roads that’s like driving to Georgia and back,” Reid said. “I don’t think people realize with the weight of that truck, you’re tired, you have your wing down, people are cutting you off…that’s a lot.

“If I could tell drivers anything it would be to just be conscious of what you are doing. You are not going to get there any faster cutting in front of me. If anything, I’m going to get you there faster if you stay behind me.”

HOW YOU CAN HELP
While Novi doesn’t have a policy that requires residents to move their cars off the neighborhood roads during a snowstorm, it sure does help.

Jeff VanCurler, who has been plowing snow for the City for 20 years, said every driver has at least backed out of one subdivision because they couldn’t get through due to cars being parked on both sides of the road.

It also doesn’t help either if you throw your snow shovel at a truck, jump on the truck, or stand in the middle of the road to not let the truck through (yes, all these things have happened in the past).

CLEARING UP MISCONCEPTIONS
Every year someone complains their subdivision is cleared last and that is not the case. All the trucks are equipped with GPS so team leaders can see where trucks are and where they have been.

“There’s never a time where we went to the same neighborhood and started,” said Reid. “It’s always different depending on where we are in our routes.”

Novi’s Snow Team maintains all public roads in the City (except for Haggerty Road, Eight Mile Road, Napier Road, Pontiac Trail, Fourteen Mile Road, I-96, I-696, I-275, and M-5). The protocol for clearing snow and ice
starts with major roads, neighborhood entrances/exits and municipal parking lots first; followed by residential
streets; and ending with non-motorized routes abutting City-owned property.

Another common complaint is snow filling the end of driveways. A plow driver does not intentionally push snow into a driveway, rather it comes off the plow and must go somewhere. Reid said the best thing for people to do
is wait until the truck comes through. However, if you cannot wait, he has a tip to help.

“When we plow the subdivisions most of us do right turns,” Reid said. “Say you are on the south side of the road and a truck is coming west to east. If you plowed the west side in front of your house, less snow would
get into your driveway. If you push it into the road or to the east, it will just come back in.”

CONNECT WITH US
When snowstorms hit, we encourage residents to keep up with the Snow Team’s progress by checking the City
of Novi Facebook page
or Nextdoor for updates.

If you have an issue, feel free to call 248.735.5640, send a text to 248.278.7611 or submit a request at
cityofnovi.org/snow. Our team also likes to hear good stories so please be sure to send along those kudos for a job well done!