By: Yakira Cohen
The College Park City Council met with Department of Public Works officials on Feb. 5 regarding the publication of their snow removal tracker link, an initiative that will improve residents’ knowledge of road conditions in dangerous weather. The department plans to interact with residents through an online map to show them when a truck was last seen on a given snowy street.
“We wanted to try to to provide the public with more information on where we are with the operation, in as close to real time as possible,” said Robert Marsili, director of Public Works.
The City’s department of Public Works started a pilot program two years ago to track small groups of vehicles in order to manage day-to-day operations, according to Marsili. After expanding tracking to all public works vehicles within the department, the department hopes to increase communication on their status with the public.
“This is something that I believe the Mayor and City Council have kind of wished for. They want a higher level of communication with the residents in the city, so that people can actually see what’s going on and understand our efforts to keep the streets clear of snow and ice,” said Assistant Director of Public Works Frank Pacifico.
Users will be able see when a truck was most recently on a snowy street based on the color of the street on the site’s map. Additionally, traffic cameras will indicate various traffic volumes of different areas, also represented by colors on the map.
“That’ll help the residents, we believe, see where we are are with the operation,” said Marsili. “Be on one site and be able to see what the roads look like.”
Marsili stated that residents should use the map for information but not rely on it to decide to drive in inclement weather. Although the map shows when trucks were last on a street, it does not show road conditions. Snow can build up again quickly, causing roads to be dangerous despite recent presence of a snow plow.
However, Marsili believes the benefits outweigh the costs.
“I’m confident, we are confident, that our operation will be able to provide a good service and residents will be able to see we were there within 48 hours, that’s pretty good,” he said.
Councilwoman Kate Kennedy (District 1), echoed these sentiments.
“It’s think it’s great. Both because it helps the public works do their job, but also that it will be helpful for residents to see the progress of the snow plow,” she said. “I think that it would more positive than negative.”
Pacifico stated that he did not see any drawbacks to implementing the system, which will cost the city an annual flat fee of $4500.