Even though snow dump trucks don’t get a ton of mileage, they definitely see more wear and tear than an average vehicle does throughout the years. City maintenance workers asked for a 2013 International 7400 SFA 2.5-ton dump truck equipped with a stainless steel snowplow and a spreader at last week's meeting. The $110,000 budgeted purchase is intended to replace a 1998 2.5-ton Freightliner FL-70 dump truck, which is used for snow removal.
Maintenance Supervisor Wendell Hill went through a process about three-four years ago where the purchase of a new truck was deferred, and the sixth truck is a backup truck. In order to address six plow routes the city needs six trucks.
“We used a one-ton and in reality using a one-ton truck is difficult because it can’t carry as much salt,” Hill said. “We are equipped to have five trucks with plows and spreaders. During big storms the backup is used.”
Director of Public Services James Eckrich said that in reality some trucks aren’t used as frequently as plowing.
"They are all different. They are used for what we need them for, which is plowing and doing the limited amount of streets we do in house," he said.
Maintenance costs over the past five years on the 1998 truck have been approximately $13,000 and the truck has approximately 46,370 miles on it.
Eckrich said that there is never going to be much mileage the snowplows because they aren’t out plowing Interstate 44. If the city wants to put more miles on a truck, cutting a plow route would take more time to plow residential city streets, which could be dangerous in a big snow event.
“Removing a truck and adding a longer route I’m very uncomfortable with. At that point you are dramatically increasing the length of time you are fighting these storms. During a snow event they are used during the duration of the event. They aren’t necessarily running 36 hours straight, but running a substantial portion of that time,” Eckrich said. “
Hill said that it is not the miles on the truck, that it is more so the hours on the truck. The 1998 truck is currently red flagged and the brakes are going.
“In a snow event it (the engine) does not get shut down. In a cold weather situation it would be more of a liability than an asset,” Hill said. “It’s not the mileage on the trucks, it’s what’s going on inside of the trucks.”
The maintenance crew currently has to bring the trucks inside the building, which is not equipped for cleaning purposes, to clean them. Salt gets in the cracks and crevices in the vehicles and it’s very difficult to clean those areas. According to Hill, salt then eats at the metal and the break lines.
“Fourteen years is a long time. You can’t look at it like you look at your personal vehicle,” Hill said.
Even though Alderman Paul Duchild and Alderman Tim Trueblood wanted to spend money on repair rather than spending $114,000 on a new truck, Duchild did see that they were building a fleet for the future.
The purchase passed nonunanimously to sell the 1998 Freightliner as a surplus vehicle. The new truck should be delivered within 120-180 days from the order day and will be available for the 2012-2013 winter season.