Clean streets provide beauty, safety to city

Cleaning Marietta’s streets is one of the best investments that can be made for our beautiful city.

Besides making the city look attractive for residents and visitors, clean streets save money and make the city much more safe.

How does the city save money by operating a $215,000 new sweeper and paying $18.73 per hour for an operator?

Clean streets and especially catch basins or storm sewers allow proper drainage of rain and other flowing water. When storm sewers are partially or completely blocked, rain pools on the streets. Then, heavy motor vehicle traffic slowly or quickly begins pulverizing the road surface as the water penetrates down through the asphalt, base gravel and layers beneath.

This is particularly evident along Seventh Street. Regularly plugged storm sewers next to Tim Horton’s and on the other side of the street near Harrison Hall have resulted in destruction of asphalt and curbing. This creates extremely unsafe conditions for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists. The ruts are deep and long. The storm sewer next to Tim Horton’s is being rebuilt as part of the $3.1 million Pike, Seventh and Greene streets project. If kept clear of debris it may serve the city for many years. Regularly plugged, residents and visitors will observe asphalt deterioration within two to three years.

During winter months, plugged catch basins can result in water pooling and then freezing into dangerous sheets of ice. Dangerous collisions result.

Even a modern street sweeper cannot collect all of the debris that falls off trucks, blows off trees or otherwise ends up in gutters.

Although the “street sweeping schedule” calls for the Putnam and Washington street bridges to be cleaned on Thursday evenings or early Friday mornings, a recent bicycle tour and collection of debris resulted in more than 32 pounds of items collected that had been on the bridges more than a month.

Included in the dangerous collection: a 29-inch by 8-Inch piece of plate steel weighing four pounds, a five pound chunk of fire wood that had created a dam of sand behind it, a six foot piece aluminum porch railing, a hubcap, welding rods, a heavy steel brake and nuts and bolts, cans, gloves, and a baby toy.

This collections of potential projectiles most likely has to be removed by hand by a team in a pickup truck. Done systematically as workers travel an area, the bridges, after sweeping, could be cleaned in under 15 minutes. Isn’t that a small cost for protecting travelers from these potential projectiles?

Street sweeping currently often occurs when vehicles are parked on one or both sides of the street. That results in the sweeper operating in the center of the streets, which mostly are crowned, with little debris being removed because it’s next to the curb.

By using a similar system, as during leaf removal with signs placed to inform residents, the sweeper is coming the next day so they may move vehicles out of the way. The expense of sign placement would be offset by the sweeper being able to thoroughly and properly remove debris so it doesn’t clog the drains as it does now.

Residents and businesses can assist those operating the sweeper by not blowing cut grass into the roadways. Long time operator Paul Felton shared that grass clippings in quantity plug the sweeper’s filter system. The result is a the loss of 45 minutes to several hours of operation because the sweeper must be taken to the sewage treatment plant and cleaned out before returning to cleaning streets.

One person who repeatedly blew grass into a city street eventually was billed $182 to reimburse the city for the unnecessarily required city clean up.

If chemically treated grass does make it into storm sewers, it can severely contaminate the stream or other water source it reaches. Even untreated grass consumes oxygen need for healthy fresh water.

This not rocket science. This is reasonable, consistent and reliable street cleaning. It is like putting money in the bank. And everyone can help the process by cleaning near by catch basins. Be aware of traffic. Thank you.

Roger. G. Kalter

1st Ward Council Representative

Planning, Zoning, Annexation and Housing chair

Streets and Transportation committee member