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New tool tracks Superior snow plows

Sanding trucks that service primary routes in Superior have been outfitted with GPS that can be followed by the public.

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A city snow plow clears snow at the intersection of Harrison Street and Baxter Avenue in Superior on Dec. 2, 2019. Maria Lockwood / File / Superior Telegram
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Four sanding trucks in Superior have been outfitted with GPS trackers, allowing residents to track their progress during winter weather. The tracker updates every 30 seconds, giving residents a real-time view of the work, according to a Facebook post from Superior Mayor Jim Paine on Wednesday, Dec. 1.

The sanders being tracked are the city’s main winter patrol trucks. They are out first during winter weather events, and they only service primary routes. Residential routes are plowed by non-GPS units, according to the city’s website.

Comments flooded in following the mayor’s post, mainly positive. Michelle Rowell and Dave Beats asked if there was a way to track the path each truck had taken over the last couple hours so drivers knew which streets had been cleared most recently.

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“Yep, that’s coming,” Paine replied. “In fact, we can see it now on the internal version of the data. We are just sorting out the best way to post it.”

Jeff Skrenes, city planner and housing coordinator, suggested giving nicknames to the plows, which are currently designated by the numbers 305-308.

“The only way I would improve this is to come up with really bad puns instead of numbers for the plows and sanders,” he wrote. “‘Which one is closest to you?’ ‘Darth Blader.’ ‘Oh, yeah, well, I got 'Easy Like Sandy Morning' coming past my house right now.’”

The city partnered with Verizon Connect to add the GPS capabilities to some trucks in the public works fleet. In addition to giving the public an immediate look at snow plowing efforts, the tool provides data that can help the street division manage operations effectively and efficiently.

Visit the city’s truck tracker webpage for more information and the city’s winter road maintenance page for a description of sanding routes.

The trucks can be tracked using Verizon Reveal Manager. Visit reveal.fleetmatics.com/login.aspx or download the app on a cellphone.

The username is "public@ci.superior.wi.us"; the password is "password."

The new tracking tool rolled out in advance of the first expected snowstorm of the season. Some areas of the Northland could see accumulations of more than 6 inches of snow over the weekend, according to the National Weather Service office in Duluth.

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RELATED: First winter snowstorm expected in Northland this weekend

“I’m already going to get popcorn ready,” said Danyelle Hope in response to the mayor’s post. “The comments after the first snow are going to be golden. Nice app though.”

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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