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Linn County's Winter Maintenance Operations Policy (PDF) sets our normal hours of operation at 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday These hours can be extended to 4 a.m. to 6 p.m. and include weekends during snow emergencies. If you have an emergency outside of these hours, dial 911.
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The Operations Superintendent monitors multiple weather forecasting apps, uses the Iowa DOT Road Weather Information System to check air and pavement temperatures, and watches Iowa DOT live cameras to see current conditions when a winter weather event is predicted for Linn County. Then, around 1 a.m., the superintendent drives a two hour route through the whole County in two-wheel drive to get a sense of how difficult it is to get around. If the decision is made to call in crews for extended hours, the superintendent calls the seven managers who call the 30-41 other crew members for an early start time. Mechanics are also called in to be ready for any repair needs.
No. Salt and sand are only applied to hard surfaced roads due to the damage it can cause to rock roads. Gravel roads that become slick are roughed up with a motor grader to provide better traction. In some cases, lime, rock chips, sand, or rock is applied to the surface.
Salt on a gravel road causes maintenance problems as the road begins to thaw out, often making conditions worse. As the salt melts the snow/ice, it causes the salt and water solution to penetrate into the road surface. This causes the road surface to break up and loosens the previously hard packed surface. This process will continue to progress into the base of the road and can create a quicksand like effect. Further damage to the road can occur as vehicles drive over the road because they sink into the road instead of riding across the top.
During a Priority Route response, 30 crew members operating 30 truck plows usually take three hours to clear all hard surfaced roads in the secondary road system. During a Standard Route response, 41 crew members operating 30 truck plows and 11 motor graders usually take 10-12 hours to clear all Linn County secondary roads. Response times can vary greatly based upon the weather conditions.