Wichita city crews are working through the night to pick up thousands of tons of sand scattered on the roads for traction during the recent snow storm. But so far, only about 10% of the city's roads have been swept up.
"I mean it's just piling up and it's not going anywhere," said driver Bryce Wagoner about the sand on Wichita's roads. "I've been wondering if the street sweepers are just not working or if they just don't care."
In the meantime drivers say the remaining sand is at least an annoyance if not an additional driving hazard. After one week of street sweeping you can still pick up handfuls of the sand. And now a new storm will slow down the clean-up effort.
"It's a lot of sand," said Diane Worth, a Wichita driver. "I've been trying to keep my car clean and it's a little difficult."
"I am worried about it making the roads more hazardous," said Wagoner.
During the recent storm and following deep freeze the city put down 7000 tons of sand to help cars find traction on icy roads. Now it's not so much a help as a hazard to drivers.
"I had a friend who ... caught some sand on the shoulder, spun off, went off and totalled his car right into a tree," said Wagoner.
The City of Wichita says it's moved some dayshift workers to the overnight shift so it can run all six of its street sweepers at once.
"We're currently running six street sweepers third shift, overnight, when there's the least amount of traffic conflict," said Joe Pajor, deputy director of Wichita's Public Works department.
Despite the effort, after a week of work there are still few roads you can find without a sandy coating.
"It looks like all that wind we had kind of blew it into drifts," said Worth.
In addition to the safety issue, the city wants to keep the sand from making its way down into the river water.
"It's important environmentally to get it cleaned up," said Pajor. "And we may be able to reuse it. So, there's a small financial benefit to getting it cleaned up."
"But the fact is it's still out there and still makes the roads more dangerous," said Wagoner.
And now the weather is conspiring to slow the process down even further. A new storm system forecast for later this week will have the city shifting some of it's crews from sweeping to pre-treating roads, again.
"The amount that we're able to get swept, will go down," said Pajor.
Even as the hours required to clean the streets stretch out so does the cost.
So far this winter the price for street cleaning has topped $832,899 and we still have two more months to go. Last winter cost you $804,278. That's compared to an average year priced at $565,000.
The city says unless the forecast changes it expects to begin pre-treating streets with brine Tuesday. And it plans to move into full snow emergency 24 hour coverage starting Thursday.