When Winter Storm Goliath hit Roswell in late December 2015, dumping more than 15 inches of snow on the city in three days, it forced many local residents to stay off the streets. People put off their plans to go even short distances in town as snow packed the roads, blocking some folks into their homes and making travel in many places a risky proposition.
However, for the City of Roswell’s Street Department, the immediate impact of Goliath — an unusually massive storm for southeast New Mexico — was just the opposite. The roster of Street Department personnel headed out and onto the city’s snow-packed thoroughfares, facing a long road — or at least what seemed like innumerable roads — of work to get the city moving again.
The Street Department’s workforce labored 24 hours a day for five weeks straight to help clear and salt roads.
“During this challenging time in Roswell, it was great to see our city departments, the Roswell community and the National Guard work together through the challenges of the storm,” says Street Department Superintendent Quin Miller.
The Street Department maintains 364 miles of paved city streets and 400 miles of alleyways, as well as various other areas entrusted to the department, ensuring quality and safety for citizens. The department is continually planning ahead and budgeting for future road maintenance projects.
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“Our goal is to keep city streets in good and safe condition for drivers,” Miller says.
Some of the regular tasks handled by the 24-employee Street Department are fixing potholes, crack sealing, street sweeping, installation and maintenance of street signs, spraying for weeds, painting traffic lines and striping of crosswalks. Also on its to-do list are mowing of city-owned right-of-ways, alleys, properties and land, operating and maintaining the city rock crusher and supplying materials such as gravel, fill dirt and road base to projects throughout the city. The department is also responsible for setting out traffic control for parades, festivals and other events.
The Street Department assists other city departments when called on. Some of the requests are very basic, such as helping pull out trash trucks that have ended up stuck in muddy alleys after significant rainstorms. Other requests can be a bit unique, such as assisting the Roswell Museum and Art Center with moving an art exhibit that featured statues that required crane equipment to handle their size and weight.
Miller says his department works hard to respond to customer requests, deliver proactive services and plan ahead for future street infrastructure needs. He notes citizens can submit concerns about potholes, street signs or any other street-related issues by using the city’s online FixIT form (roswell-nm.gov/Fix-It) or calling Central Control, which is manned 24 hours a day, at 575-347-5421.
The Street Department team stays adaptable to change, always looking to streamline processes and utilize technology, new products and tools to increase efficiency. The department maintains regular contact with the New Mexico Department of Transportation, other city departments and surrounding communities to exchange information and learn about new resources that can help ensure Roswell is utilizing the latest products and tools to increase workflow and efficiency.
A couple examples: The department has acquired a machine that allows it to make its own street signs instead of having to order them from an outside supplier. Meanwhile, an upgrade to the asphalt materials used for significant road resurfacing has resulted in a savings of taxpayer money (the materials cost less than the previous type the city used) and time, allowing certain street maintenance and repairs that previously took weeks to now be completed within days.
“The best part of working with the Street Department,” Miller says, “is the willingness of each and every employee to do whatever needs to be done to benefit the department and the city.”
Todd Wildermuth is public information officer for the city of Roswell.