Cleveland goes high tech as it looks to improve snow removal process

Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 8:47 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Despite a recent stretch of beautiful fall weather, we all know it will be here soon enough. The cold and blowing snow will move into Northeast Ohio, and the city of Cleveland is hoping to eliminate the complaints that traditionally come when the streets are slow to be plowed.

In his first winter as mayor, Justin Bibb heard loud and clear from unhappy people in the city who said their streets were not plowed and quickly replied that he had inherited a broken snow removal system.

As part of the mayor’s initiative to modernize operations, the city has taken a step in that direction when it comes to snow removal.

Cleveland has contracted with Rubicon Route Optimization, a company, according to the city’s Director of Public Works, Frank Williams, that specializes in logistics to optimize city snow removal routes.

“It balances the routes with our equipment in mind to get us through those routes efficiently as possible,” Williams said.

The mad scramble, driven by angry phone calls, to get drivers to areas of need appears to be a thing of the past - the city is going high tech.

“Each cab will have a device similar to an iPad, the drivers will get directions to the best place to start a route, but also will give them turn by turn directions or navigation throughout the routes,” Williams said.

Getting people moving on the streets is a priority, Williams said, but creating a safer environment when plowing has to be part of that process, and this new technology fits in there as well.

“When you start talking about fatigue of the drivers, when you start talking about traffic analysis, average daily traffic we can take all those things into account,” he said.

As far as equipment goes the city has 60 frontline trucks and another 50 or so trucks that can quickly be fitted with plows so that there can be over a hundred plows available at any time.

The winterization of the equipment is underway, including preparing for a substantial increase in the use of liquid deicers, and should be complete by the end of the month.

The city has hired 26 new staff members, mostly plow drivers, to the seasonal pool.