Not sure what the safest route home is during a winter storm? There’s an app for that.
The municipality recently launched a website where visitors can see which roads Public Works crews have most recently cleared.
Miguel Pelletier, director of Public Works, said the site, which can be accessed by smartphones as well as computers and tablets, allows people to see where the plows have been.
“If someone has to go somewhere, they’ll have a chance to see where a plow has been recently. People can plan their routes better,” he said. “If you have two roads to choose from and one has been cleared while the other has not, you will be able to make your choice based on this information.”
To click on the site, go to https://www.chatham-kent.ca/Maintenance/Pages/Plow-Tracker.aspx
All of the municipality’s 56 snowplows and 21 graders are equipped with GPS tracking devices. Information from those devices will now be available to the public.
The buttons on the app allow the public to see where the plows have been for the past two, four, 12 or 24 hours, he said.
Pelletier cautioned there is no plan to show projected routes, only where plows have been.
“We’re not going to show the route where the plow is going to be. We don’t want to create an expectation. We sometimes have to redirect a snowplow,” he said.
Pelletier said Chatham-Kent isn’t the first municipality to offer up such information to the public, but expects it will be well received.
“When I first got here about three years ago, we used to get a lot of calls asking when the plows were going out,” he said. “This allows us to go to the public and they’ll be able to engage with us and see where the plows have been.”
He stressed if someone has problems with the site, they can contact the municipality.
“Right now, we have the ability to make some changes. For example, if there’s a demand that people want to know where they (they plows) have been in just the last hour, we can make some adjustments,” Pelletier said. “We’ll wait until we get some feedback.”
He added the peak period for snow clearing is on weekdays in the winter months along bus routes.
“We try to make sure we have as many school bus routes cleared up as we can. Then we focus on the regular bus routes in town,” he said.
Pelletier reminds people to be patient on the roads at all times, especially when encountering a snowplow. He encourages drivers to not follow too closely or pass a plow either.
The public is also asked to refrain from pushing snow from private property on to the municipal rights-of-way.