WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 12, 2014, 08:45 AM

Fargo City Commission to vote tonight on renting snow-melting device

FARGO – City officials here may soon have a hot way to get rid of the cold byproduct of winter.

By: Ryan Johnson, INFORUM, Forum News Service

FARGO – City officials here may soon have a hot way to get rid of the cold byproduct of winter.

The Fargo City Commission is scheduled to vote at its 5 p.m. meeting tonight on a proposal to rent a portable snow melter for next winter.

The authorization to rent a Trecan snow melter for three months at a cost of $35,000 per month was requested by Ben Dow, operations director for Fargo Public Works, and will be on the commission’s consent agenda tonight.

In an April 30 memo to commissioners, Dow wrote that the department had requested proposals for the rental of the portable device. Only one proposal was received, and a three-member selection committee of Public Works Department staff agreed the pitch by Canada-based Trecan had met all the requirements.

The city has looked into buying or renting a snow-melting machine for the past five years, and Dow met with a consultant to discuss the feasibility of doing so in 2011.

At the time, he told The Forum that the machine could help Fargo deal with two tricky areas for snow removal – the city’s more than 150 cul-de-sacs and the downtown area, which doesn’t have many places to pile snow and could lose a main storage site with a possible Second Street North floodwall.

In 2012, Dow said one such machine could cut his department’s fleet of snow removal trucks after a 6-inch snowfall from 12 to one, and the device could reduce the amount of fuel needed to truck snow to piling areas across town.

A snow melter is a diesel-powered machine that holds a tub of water at 80 to 100 degrees. Once crews dump snow in, it’s melted on site, and snowmelt is poured out into a storm sewer drain or dump station while a waste bin in the machine catches any debris or trash.

In 2011, Dow told The Forum the cost of purchasing a melt machine ranged from $250,000 to about $1 million.

<Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587