Tips for Driving Safely with Snowplows

Winter is just around the corner. Municipalities, cities, DOTs, and others are gearing up for the winter by preparing their snowplow crews and equipment. We can all learn valuable lessons from these agencies by preparing our vehicles and ourselves for the upcoming season.

Snowplows serve to make the community and roads passable during the worst winter weather. Snowplows are fitted with heavy, wide plows on the front of the truck to clear as much snow and ice from the road as possible – this means sometimes they may cross the center line, shoulder of the road or make other moves in their effort to provide a driving surface the general public can navigate. If you encounter a plow, slow down and give them the space they need to perform their task. Your best chance to arrive at your destination safely is to stay behind the plow as the worst of the conditions are in front of the plow. It’s important that everyone, from individual drivers to plow operators, stay safe on the road to get home safely so here are some tips.

Prepare your vehicle

It is good practice to maintain your vehicle year round, however it is especially important to winterize your vehicle to avoid the dangers of frigid winter weather.

Check the following before snow begins to fall:

  • Wiper blades and windshield washer fluid
  • Battery
  • Ignition system
  • Antifreeze
  • Brakes
  • Electrical system
  • Tires
  • Heater and defrost system

Additionally, it’s recommended to carry blankets, booster cable, a flashlight and extra batteries, snow scraper and shovel.

When driving:

  • Give snowplows room to do their job. It’s best practice to not tailgate or try to pass a snowplow while it’s in working.
  • As a general rule, stay at least 200 feet behind a snowplow.
  • Plows pushing snow can create a cloud which can blind drivers who are following too closely.
  • These are large, heavy vehicles and the drivers are intent on their task at hand, don’t be another distraction to the plow driver. They cannot stop in a short distance.
  • There may be spreaders on trucks to distribute salt or sand on the road, these can cause damage to cars if driving too close, stay back to protect your car and you.
  • Always turn on your headlights, and have plenty of fuel and wiper fluid (carrying an extra gallon is a good idea) and have appropriate tires for winter driving conditions.
  • Don’t over estimate your braking capabilities, many 4 X 4 vehicles are heavier than normal, thus the braking distance is greater. Your traction is determined by weight and tire tread. Sand or cat litter in your trunk will add weight and can be used if you do need help with traction.
  • Leave extra space between you and the vehicles in front and behind you.
  • Bridge decks freeze first so take extra caution when driving on these.
  • Remember to always buckle up!
  • Ignore the phone and email until you get to your destination. There are other people on the road that deserve your attention.
  • Most importantly, SLOW DOWN!
It is not too late to get help with your snow removal needs. Send us a note or give us a call, we’ll get back to you with a proposal and estimate for how we can help you.

What is a Public-Private Partnership?

A public-private partnership (P3) is a funding model for public infrastructure projects such as new airports, waste water treatment plants and new roadways.

The government at a local, state and/or national level make up a public partner. On the other hand, privately-owned business, public corporation or consortium of businesses with a specific area of expertise are what factor into a private partnership.

P3 arrangements are useful for large projects that require highly-skilled workers and a significant cash outlay to get started. They are also useful in countries that require the state to legally own any infrastructure that serves the public.

Different models of P3 funding are characterized by which partner is responsible for owning and maintaining assets at different stages of the project. Below are a couple of examples of types of projects that Terracare Associates has participated in some form:

Design-Build (DB)

The private-sector partner designs and builds the infrastructure to meet the public-sector partner’s specifications, often for a fixed price. The private-sector partner assumes all risk.

Operation & Maintenance Contract (O & M)

The private-sector partner, under contract, operates a publicly-owned asset for a specific period of time. The public partner retains ownership of the assets. Our partnership with CH2M-Hill and the City of Centennial Public works department, which just became the first accredited P3 of its time, is an example of this type of arrangement.

The primary value of the P3 model comes from delivering a needed project more efficiently and at less risk for the public entity.

Using Denver as an example, CDOT has been able to complete an expansion of Highway 36 between Boulder and the I-25 corridor using private sector funding in exchange for an arrangement on tolling fees. This model has proven itself successful enough that the same type of model is being used for the eventual I-70 expansion project.

Another large scale Denver area project is the connection of Denver International Airport to downtown Denver via a monorail going from the airport to downtown Denver. This project was started first by a public-private arrangement and finished through support by the federal government with large funding to finish the project.

Our P3 experts on staff at Terracare are available for a P3 consultation with your team throughout the United States. Contact us today for more information on this innovative approach to public works requirements.

The City of Centennial Public Works Department Earns Accreditation

In 2008, the City of Centennial launched a large-scale public private partnership with CH2M, and Terracare Associates was selected as a subcontractor to perform comprehensive public works maintenance for the city. Of the almost 40,000 municipalities, townships and county governments in the U.S., Centennial’s public works department became the 119th accredited public works agency and the first public-private partnership public works agency in the U.S.

The maintenance Terracare Associates provides includes street maintenance, sign maintenance and installation, snow removal, tree maintenance and removal, traffic signal maintenance, erosion control, street sweeping, trash and debris removal, and maintenance of the award-winning Centennial Center Park.

“It is a real honor to be a contributor to this accreditation. I could not be more proud of our team working every day to ensure the citizens of Centennial are safe and the city looks its best,” said Justin Stewart, Vice President of Public Infrastructure for Terracare Associates.

The accreditation process is no easy feat. There are 40 chapters and 608 sub-chapters in the accreditation process in public works, 360 of those applicable to Centennial. CH2M and the city wanted to demonstrate that the city was compliant with the accreditation requirements for each applicable sub-chapter. To do so, they provided documentation of city policies backed up by actual processes and associated work proofs related to each individual accreditation service area.

“This is a milestone for our city. Meeting the criteria for this accreditation confirms we have been moving in the right direction since the city was formed,” said Centennial Mayor Cathy Noon.

The accreditation program aims to promote self-improvement within an organization; offer an evaluation and education program; recognize exemplary performance; improve public works performance and delivery of services; increase professionalism; and instill pride among agency staff, elected officials and the local community.

Parking Lot Repairs That Will Improve Your Property Value This Spring

Spring has made an early appearance and that’s a great excuse to get outside and walk your parking areas to determine what needs should be addressed. As a commercial property owner, a sound facilities management and maintenance program is a necessity to keep the value and appearance of the facility at its best. Maintaining a parking lot can seem daunting, but it is a necessary task. The parking lot is the first impression your customers are presented. It should be clean, easy to navigate and free of asphalt defects.

Here are some types of maintenance services you should be looking to be provided:

Cleaning:

Regular trash pickup, sweeping and power washing will help keep the parking area neat and attractive. Potential customers will not have to worry about driving or walking amongst discarded cans, containers or other debris from the “less than considerate” folks that will come through the facility.

Potholes and asphalt repairs:pothole

Once asphalt deterioration begins, it can progress quickly. These areas should be addressed as soon as possible to reduce the overall affected area in need of repair. A poor condition parking lot is a direct reflection on the business.

 

 

Seal Coating:

The application of an asphalt sealant not only keeps the parking lot looking new, it helps prevent the degradation of the asphalt surface. The sealant repels the damage of day-to-day exposure from the environment, such as UV rays, water, salts, spilled fuel, etc.

Crack sealing:

This is the biggest bang for your buck in maintenance processes. Any crack in the parking surface presents an opportunity for water to infiltrate and begin the process of creating a compromise in the integrity of the pavement. This is the beginning of the menace called potholes.

asphalt repairReplacement:

When you have an area that just falls apart: the real solution is to remove and replace it. Temporary fixes just prolong the inevitable. Have it dug up, recondition the base and then re-install the pavement. The new asphalt should then become part of a regular maintenance plan to prevent a repeat scenario.

 

If there is one thing to remember, it is that maintenance must be done at a planned regular sequence to prolong the longevity of the pavement and enhance the property appearance and value.

What You Should Know About Retention and Detention Ponds

It’s the middle of summer with hard – dry baked ground surface flash floods and runoff are a likely threat to commercial and public properties. How do you best control and protect your property from heavy rains? In more susceptible flood areas of your property, creating retention and detention ponds can be very effective. These depressions in your property are designed to help minimize the effects and possible damage by heavy rainfall, snow melt and sudden downpours that cause flooding. They help capture runoff that could otherwise damage your well-maintained landscape.

 

The Definitions

Retention ponds are wet ponds. Typical characteristics include water in the depressed area and steep side banks. Detention ponds are traditionally dry except during flooding weather to help control and manage the movement and settling of water. In some instances, detention ponds are used as a park during dry weather.

 

Maintenance

Both areas require much of the same maintenance to assure they properly function as they were designed. Both ponds need to be mowed regularly – keeping grass to a height of four to six inches to ensure healthy growth and minimize weeds. Dumping of grass clippings and other items should be discouraged. Herbicides should be used sparingly or not at all, as they could be washed downstream and create toxic conditions. Special care needs to be given to pipes or channels leading in or out of the ponds. Removal of trash and debris are crucial steps to make sure the proper drainage flow is maintained. Plugged channels can create erosion in other areas of the pond causing the integrity of the structure to fail, resulting in greater damage.

Detention ponds often have sediment that settles at the bottom of a pond that needs to be removed once the pond has dried.

Retention ponds tend to need more monitoring because of their purpose – holding water. Slopes of retention ponds need to be checked for erosion at least once per year, and more frequently if the season has been unusually wet. In retention ponds, floating litter, algae and shoreline erosion are common, as well as stagnant water producing odors and breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Sediment build up needs to be documented as the removal process is much more difficult. These conditions require ongoing monitoring and maintenance plans.

 

Checklist

We compiled a quick checklist to monitor and properly maintain retention and detention ponds and we can offer this service as part of our base maintenance contract if needed:

  • Routine inspections to evaluate damage to slopes, channels, and outfall structures performed annually and after major precipitation – heavy rainfall, flooding, and snow melt.
  • Vegetation management to maintain native plant growth at a healthy height (four to six inches) and limited or no use of herbicides.
  • Trash, litter and debris removal – paying particular attention to inflow and outflow points and devices.
  • Check equipment of all mechanical devices including fence gates, pumps or valves.

 

Retention and detention structures were built for the purpose to protect from flooding and to aid in the capture of water runoff from heavy rain or snow falls. When maintained properly, retention and detention ponds minimize the effects and help maintain a protected and beautiful landscape.

Partnering to Keep Road Safety a Priority

 

traffic560By Steve Bertasso – Operations Manager, Utah

Road safety starts with you.  Road maintenance companies go to great lengths to make sure the road is safe for you during construction.  Car and truck construction crashes are many times caused by auto drivers not paying attention or are too impatient to slow down.  Sharing the road with large vehicles can be dangerous if you are not aware of their limitations. Continue reading “Partnering to Keep Road Safety a Priority”

Public-Private Partnerships For Public Works

City of Centennial public worksPublic-private partnerships are a way for governments to collaborate with the private sector to share the risks and rewards involved in the construction and maintenance of public infrastructure projects. To ensure a lean government and outstanding service, cities often embraced public-private partnerships. This is what the City of Centennial did.

The City of Centennial is located just south of Denver city limits with 107,000 residents.  The city was formed in 2000 through high citizen engagement resulting in the largest incorporated city in U.S. history at the time.
Continue reading “Public-Private Partnerships For Public Works”

Creating Winning Partnerships for Municipal Landscapes

Parks and streetscapes beautification projects deliver essential environmental, aesthetic, and recreation benefits to our cities.  Investing in projects that maintain the city outdoors results in positive economic benefits, enhanced property values, increased municipal revenue, and attracts homebuyers and employers who appreciate well maintained outdoor areas.

Terracare Associates (TCA) works with municipalities from California to Texas providing landscape maintenance services to meet the unique needs of governmental agencies. Continue reading “Creating Winning Partnerships for Municipal Landscapes”