Double-Bladed Kane County Snow Plows, New Routes Save $1.5 Million

Double-Bladed Kane County Snow Plows, New Routes Save $1.5 Million

A Wrigley’s gum commercial from decades back promised you could “double your pleasure, double your fun with Doublemint, Doublemint, Doublemint Gum!”

Kane County’s Division of Transportation is doing just that, doubling taxpayers’ pleasure and drivers’ fun by using double-winged snow plows and clever snow routes to significantly reduce its fleet, improve performance and save money.

“The County Board is proud of the initiative our transportation staff took by taking advantage of efficiencies in equipment and routing to save Kane County taxpayers more than $1.5 million in equipment expense,” said Drew Frasz, chairman of the Kane County Transportation Committee. “Add to those savings the long-term fuel, maintenance and personnel hours needed to operate the eliminated fleet units, and you begin to see why this is such a neat story.”

KDOT Maintenance Superintendent Bill Edwards. CREDIT: KDOT

The brainchild of the revised snow routes and equipment purchasing is Bill Edwards, the KDOT maintenance superintendent who last year was named professional manager of the year by the American Public Works Association, Fox Valley Branch.

It’s true that Kane County didn’t have a wicked winter in 2016-17, and Kane County’s snow-plowing efficiency shouldn’t be measured by just one winter’s success. But you can get a clear picture of KDOT’s fleet efficiency through the prism of time.

By purchasing double-bladed snow plows, equipping existing trucks with the two-wing model and improving the efficiency of snow routes, the fleet has been reduced by attrition. The highest number of plow routes and trucks was back in 2006, when the county had 34 trucks and 24 routes. Presently, the county has 24 trucks and 20 routes.

“By adding wing plows on the right side of many of the trucks, they have increased the width of each pass,” Frasz explained. “For example, a three-truck team running the Randall Road route can now be done with two. Or a single truck can plow a single lane, full-width in one pass.”

The history of truck purchase and replacement looks like this:

  • 2010 – KDOT replaced four trucks, sold five
  • 2014 – replaced one, sold two
  • 2016 – replaced two, sold four
  • 2017 – replacing two, selling three

“There were also a few years we didn’t replace any trucks as we adjusted from a 10-year life cycle to a 15-year life cycle,” Edwards said. “Fifteen years is the target cycle time, but it is still based on reliability and maintenance-and-repair costs. A couple of our more ‘specialty’ trucks will go more like 20 years now.

“This wouldn’t be possible without our own fleet repair and body shop,” he said. “It just wouldn’t be efficient or practical to go this long if we outsourced most of what we do.”

Edwards said the county will continue to look at ways to save money and reduce the snow-plowing fleet.

“We feel we are right about where we should be now,” Edwards said. “Our five spare trucks are all multipurpose trucks and are capable of various other jobs. None of these trucks are just spare trucks for only snowplow operations.”

SOURCE: Kane County Division of Transportation, Kane County Transportation Committee

About the Kane County Division of Transportation

KDOT’s mission is to  provide and maintain a safe and efficient transportation system while maintaining the county’s visions and values. Serving a population of more than 530,000, Kane County’s transportation infrastructure is constantly being enhanced to accommodate growth. Kane County Division of Transportation employees are responsible for the maintenance, planning, design and construction of more than 320 miles of roadway. KDOT also provides technical assistance to the 16 townships and coordinates with a number of different state, regional, and local agencies on transportation and land use issues. For more information, visit the Kane County Division of Transportation home page and Facebook page.