It’s hard to remember now, but just five months ago, Sarpy County was under a foot of snow.
Getting through that snow event – and countless others each winter – wouldn’t be possible without the Sarpy County Public Works Department. Snow removal is just one of the many ways Public Works serves Sarpy County and its many roadways.
“Our crews are willing to do whatever they have to do,” Sarpy County Public Works Director Denny Wilson. “I’ve been amazed at the number of individuals who are ready and willing to get out of bed early in the morning and hit the roads, making sure our residents and commuters can get to where they’re going.”
“We have a great bunch of people,” added Road Operations Manager Rod Ripley. “I’m proud of everyone on our staff, from those who plow snow to those who blade roads. Their work can be thankless, but we know that’s part of the territory. Our job is really about public safety, and we take that seriously.”
Maintenance and planning for the future
While we think of them most during the busy snow removal season, Public Works serves Sarpy County all year long. The department, which includes about 30 roads division employees, maintains and improves the county’s roadways. Their work includes:
- Maintaining the roads, which includes mowing and cleaning ditches, repairing culverts and signage, and picking up trash and debris.
- Designing new roadways and structures.
- Preserving survey records, which are used by outside firms to survey within the county.
- Preparing contracts for road projects.
- Coordinating with contractors and consultants to build new roads, and cooperating with other government entities as annexations and other agreements take place.
As Sarpy County has grown, so has the number of lane miles that Public Works oversees. Today, the county has 242 lane miles of paved road, 430 miles of rural gravel road and 610 lane miles of Sanitary and Improvement District, or SID, residential streets.
“Growth in Sarpy County is a great thing, and it comes with the cost and responsibility of building and maintaining infrastructure, particularly roads,” said Sarpy County Board Chairman Don Kelly. “We have many exciting projects underway now and planned for the future to ensure our road network meets our needs now and into the future.”
Using innovation to improve service
In coordination with partners, Public Works has helped launch Sarpy County’s largest road project in county history. The CONNECTSarpy – West Sarpy road project is a $65 million, multi-year road project involving 9 miles of arterial roads. This project is being built using a Construction Manager/General Contractor model, making Sarpy County the first county in the state to use this model for a roads project.
This effort is in addition to the coordination required to build other new roads across the county, including the future, expanded Platteview Road, which is currently in the design phase.
“We as a department really know how to adapt to the growing environment in Sarpy County,” said Project Engineer Neal Sellers. “We have over 80 potential projects that may be on our plate at any given time, so we are constantly making decisions about what takes priority. Being part of the design and construction of projects is something I’m very proud of.”
To help communicate changes and respond to potential issues, Public Works has developed several online tools to better serve the public. Reporting a road issue, whether it’s a pothole, debris or traffic signal issue, is easy via the Public Works webpage. You can enter the issue, location and include images of the issue.
Earlier this year, Public Works launched an online snow plow map that allows users to view and track county snow plows. This real-time feature will help residents make well-informed decisions before they hit the roads during snow events.
“Our snow tracker is part of our commitment to better communicate with the public,” Wilson said. “One of our goals as a department is to maintain functionality within our road network, and a big part of functionality is ensuring our residents and visitors have access to good information about roadwork, road closures and other changes – and let us know if they see an issue on the roads.”