LEWISTON — City plow trucks didn't start hitting the streets until 10 p.m. Sunday — hours later than they would have in years past, according to Public Works Director Dave Jones.
"We held off using the plows as long as we could," Jones said Tuesday. "We sent out the sand trucks at about 7 p.m., but we waited on the plows. And this time, it worked."
The two-day storm was the first test of Lewiston's new plow plan, designed to cut $70,000 from the snow-clearing budget.
This particular storm cooperated with the city's efforts nicely, Jones said. It arrived late on a holiday weekend, peaking early Monday morning.
"The national news about how bad the storm was going to be kept a lot of people off the roads Sunday night," Jones said. "They did their errands early and stayed in. I think many people stayed home on Monday, too. If we don't have the traffic and the people parking all over the place, that helps us move more quickly."
Under the new plan, the city eliminated contracts with private snowplows responsible for five routes in the city.
With the private plowers gone, the city restructured its plowing maps, reducing the number of routes from 22 to 19.
Jones said additional savings should come from reduced overtime. In Sunday's storm, the city's main "A-Team" plow group began its work at 10 p.m. and finished 16 hours later. Highway Operations Manager John Elie said the A-team consists of 23 vehicles, including plows, loaders and dump trucks.
They were replaced by a smaller 10-vehicle "B-Team" at 2 p.m. Monday.
"We were pretty thin then, between 3 and 6 p.m., but the storm was winding down at that point," Jones said.
In Auburn, the city reprioritized streets into four categories. The first two categories, which include Washington Street, all three bridges, the Rotary and Turner and Center streets, were plowed every two to four hours.
Priority three and four roads, which include most residential streets and most rural roads, received less frequent plowing. Crews planned to plow those roads every four to eight hours.
Denis D'Auteuil, Auburn's deputy public works director, said crews were able to keep up with the storm for the most part.
"This was predicted to be a bad storm and it turned out to be everything we expected," D'Auteuil said. Crews began work at 8 p.m. with fewer vehicles until after 3 a.m. Monday.
"What that means is that the priority one and two streets got normal treatment, but three and four priority streets got less attention until then," he said. "We used a great deal of professional judgment determining where and when to plow. I think our guys did a good job."
D'Auteuil said he expected to get a final tally of costs — including labor, sand and salt supplies and vehicle costs — by the end of the week.
Similar reports were being prepared by Lewiston staff, as well.