Street sweepers start Spring cleaning - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Street sweepers start Spring cleaning

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MADISON (WKOW)-- One sign spring is on the way, streets crews are transitioning from plowing to sweeping.

They started Monday, about a week later than normal. The cold weather pushed the work back. And thanks to the harsh winter, the streets crews also have more work than usual.

“We have to get out and pick up all the sand we've put out,” said George Dreckmann, spokesman for the Madison Streets Department. “And this winter we've put out an awful lot of sand so there's going to be quite a bit to sweep up.”

Dreckmann estimates the department will pick up more debris in the next two months than they did all last year.  And with that, comes a greater cost to dispose of the material.

“In a normal year we're going to spend between $75,000 and $80000 to dispose of the street sweepings,” Dreckmann said. “This year we're going to be pushing $100,000.”

There are nine sweepers total, and crews work day and night to clear the more than 1700 lane miles throughout the city.

“If this material is not picked up, it is going to be carried in to the storm sewers and then out in to the lakes,” Dreckmann said. “It can also clog storm sewers.”

Dreckmann says it’s more than the visible debris on the roads. Sweepers also clean up asbestos from brake pads, oils and greases.

“That's one of the other big environmental benefits of doing the sweeping is we get that material up so that it doesn't cause real severe pollution issues when it gets in to the lakes,” Dreckmann said. “So it's not just the unsightliness.”

The sweepers plan to get through the city twice over the course of the next six weeks.

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