By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Norman city crews have been working around the clock since Friday and through the weekend to clear streets. Clocking in for alternating 12-hour shifts, the city teams were on-call and on the road 24 hours a day.
“Crews are responding to calls and also checking locations throughout the entire city getting the limbs pushed off the roadway currently to keep travel lanes open,” Greg Hall, Superintendent of Streets, said Monday afternoon.
The Streets Division and Parks Maintenance crews both pulled the icy weather duty.
“Right now our main goal is just to get the roads open,” Hall said. “There are a number of low hanging trees and limbs, many of them which will rebound. Cutting them would create additional damage.”
With temperatures on the rise over the next couple of days, city officials are hoping many trees and bushes will recover on their own, but trees with damage will be trimmed and eventually removed.
“A number of trees have been identified with broken limbs that are up in the trees and are hanging,” Hall said. “Our debris contractor, TFR Enterprises, will start cutting the limbs that are low hanging and broken on Friday.”
Pickup of debris will begin Jan. 2, Hall said. Cleanup of city parks will have to wait until roads are clear.
“We’ve been mainly making sure the streets are open for traffic,” Parks Superintendent Bill Ulch said. “We have been using some chainsaws and clearing the way so traffic can get through.”
Ulch said streets take priority and then other areas are cleared.
“We work on areas like the senior citizens so they can get in and also the rec centers so they can get in and have events,” Ulch said.
He said city parks have sustained “quite a bit of damage.” In particular, Earl Sneed Park in the Miller Historic District had a lot of damage, Ulch said.
“Next week we’re going to be getting into our park sites,” Ulch said. “We looked 23 park sites today, and we estimated 700 cubic yards of debris.”
According to city staff reports, the central area of Norman from Interstate 35 east to 24th Avenue Northeast and between Robinson Street and State Highway 9 received the most damage.
Some of Norman’s older, more established neighborhoods and historic areas received some of the heaviest damage.
“What’s generally referred to as core Norman, especially around the university area, was the hardest hit within Norman,” City Manager Steve Lewis said. “A similar area was hard hit in 2007 as well.”
Only residential properties are eligible for debris removal. The city is asking residents not to put debris near water meter vaults, fire hydrants, any other above-ground utility, mailboxes, or poly carts.
Only debris placed on the public right-of-way will be eligible for collection. Crews will work from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. seven days a week until work is completed.
Residents may experience increased traffic, temporary road closures or delays on some streets where these contractors are working, according to city staff reports. Contractors will have flag persons and signage displayed to alert motorists. The last debris pickup will be Jan. 20.
Debris removal will include residential vegetative debris. Construction debris, trash and other non-vegetative waste will not be picked up. Parked vehicles should be moved from the street when the contractor is working in the area.
The storm-damaged limbs, branches and shrubbery should be cut in 8-foot to 12-foot lengths and stacked in piles along the right-of-way within five feet of the curb or edge of roadway.
In rural areas, city crews will clear and remove vegetative debris that is located within the city rights-of-way which is generally 15 feet behind the paving or outside any fenced areas adjacent to road ways. Residents are asked to not remove additional debris from adjacent properties into the right-of-way.
Bagged debris should not be placed on the street right-of-way for this pick up — only loose debris will be collected. Bagged debris will be collected at the normal yard waste collection.
In addition, the City Compost Facility, 398 Bratcher Miner Road will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays until further notice. The Compost Facility is able to receive limbs no longer than 4-foot lengths and 2 inches in diameter at no cost.
All contaminated loads with paper, rocks, bricks, and trash will be rejected. Larger vegetative debris can be taken to the City Transfer Station at 3901 Chautauqua Avenue.
Call the Action Center, 366-5396 or the City Public Works Department, 366-5452 for more information or check the city website, normanok.gov.
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