In January of 2014, Lansing received an average of 7 inches of snow, according to Weather Underground. The average temperature in the same time period was 16 degrees. These prolonged winter conditions made Lansing’s roads trouble to drive on.
Keeping Lansing’s major streets clear and driveable is up to the city of Lansing’s Operations and Maintenance Division. Its mandate is to clear the “444 miles of City streets”, according to Lansing.gov. The rules is if the snow depth exceeds two inches state trucklines and city crews will plow major streets. If the snow depth exceeds four inches, they will plow local streets as soon as major streets are plowed.
Night Phoenix’s photo mentioned in their tweet showing a road covered in snow outside The Loft in Lansing
With the major streets being taken care of by Lansing, leaving smaller streets and driveways to the homeowners to clear. It is this niche that local landscaping companies have expanded to include snow plowing in their services. With the unusually cold winter and mass amounts of snowfall, those companies are having no shortfall of jobs.
Dan Hammond, owner of Commercial Landscape in Lansing, says this winter is taking a toll on his workforce. “This year has been tough on both man and machine. Repeated back to back events with no rest for the drivers. Extremely cold windy days are brutal on the shovelers, and several have been unable to make it,” Hammond said. The weather has not just taken its toll on the manual labor but also the effecting the companies’ equipment. “The mechanics are working full/overtime to keep up with the vehicle/plow breakdowns, and routine maintenance,” Hammond said.
Justin Taylor of Earth Tones Landscape Inc. says the weather and rise in the amount of jobs for his snow removal team does not mean more of a financial gain. Because of the excessive amounts of snow and ice, more supplies have to be bought. “The big problem we have now is the shortage of bulk and bagged salt. Bulk salt especially has been difficult to get the last 2-3 weeks. If you are lucky enough to find some, most prices are double and triple the prices earlier in the season,” Taylor said.
Hammond agrees that all of this snow and business does not mean major financial gain. “The ability to pay for all the required labor, fuel, salt and miscellaneous, for an entire month is the most challenging, as we don’t get paid till the following month after we submit the invoices,” Hammond said.
The businesses in Lansing that do snow removal and salting vary on pricing. Some scout the area they are asked to clear/salt and estimate pricing for commercial businesses or residents. Some, like Commercial Landscape, have set prices for the various jobs they can do.
Despite the constant attention the roads need this winter, the hard work is keeping Lansing and its people functioning.
Picture of a road in Lansing, Michigan taken by Chris Bawden on Twitter