Plow rigging, brine may need changes for next snowstorm in Newport News


The storm has passed. But if you noticed that at least one main road in Newport News was not fully cleaned, you weren't alone.

Reed Fowler, director of Newport News Department of Public Works, said that by Monday, he wasn't satisfied with how parts of Warwick Boulevard looked, specifically near J. Clyde Morris Boulevard.

But his problem wasn't with public works staff; it was the rigging on the plows.

Fowler said the plow might not have been set as close to the ground as needed. But there's a delicate balance: Too low can damage pavement and too high doesn't do a thorough job, he said.

The process works like this: A salt-and-sand-based mixture is put on the roads before the snow falls. Then, when it starts snowing, plows go to work. About 20 to 25 plows made the rounds throughout the weekend in 12-hour shifts across priority streets, which are bridges, overpasses and main roads like Jefferson and Warwick, he said.

Usually, the brine mixture is supposed to help clear up the roads before plowing starts, he said. But there may be an issue with how soon plows hit the roads after the brine is spread, he said. There also might need to be a change in the ratio of salt to sand (right now, it's 1:1, he said).

Fowler will be looking into how things could have been done better on Friday with other members of his staff. He said he got three complaints about roads but also a couple citizen compliments.

"There's always room for improvement, but I was very pleased with how things went," Fowler said. He stressed how workers were attempting to clean the roads around the clock and that residents need to remember the city isn't used to getting pummeled with a foot of snow.

City Manager Jim Bourey said he thinks the brine mixture may not be good enough to combat the kind of thick ice that was produced. He said it was a unique situation — "12 to 16 inches of snow is a lot." The city will look into what other brine mixtures it can get that will be more effective with future snowy weather, he said.

Virginia War Museum hosts Kids Day

The Virginia War Museum will host its fifth annual Kids Day on Monday.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to a news release from Chris Garcia, the museum's education coordinator.

Kids can play miniature war games and talk with historians and re-enactors, the news release said.

There will also be a police SWAT team display, a Revolutionary War drill and a museum scavenger hunt.

Entrance is free with regular museum admission, which is $8 for adults, $7 for active-duty military, $7 for senior citizens and $6 for kids ages 7 to 18.

Amin can be reached by phone at 757-247-4890.

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