Jerry Ortega, assistant director, the City of Dallas Department of Street Services.
The inclement ice storms that hit the Dallas-Fort Worth area earlier this year tested the City of Dallas Department of Street Services. It was tasked with spreading sand and salt mix on roads and almost 300 bridges; plowing snow; and providing other services to keep traffic flowing as safely as possible during the harsh winter weather conditions. All indications point to the department passing with flying colors.
While these events stand out, they are only a small fraction of what the Department of Street Services does. Four departments make up the City of Dallas Department of Street Services: transportation, large street repairs, street maintenance and contract/finance administration. Each has its particular responsibilities, but as a whole, the Department of Street Services owns, maintains and operates the city’s 11,700 lane mi. (18,829 km) of roads. It’s responsible for pothole repairs, traffic signals, road signs, road striping, storm-water-ways maintenance and significantly more.
“We bid out larger street reconstructions, but we still do sizeable projects with in-house city forces,” said Jerry Ortega, assistant director of the Department of Street Services. “Our larger street repair division replaces failed sections of roadways and street overlays. The maintenance department focuses on imminent dangers, such as large potholes that may have occurred from the freezing and thawing cycle during the winter. We repair potholes as quickly and safely as possible. This year, from early March through mid-April 2015, our crews repaired more than 14,000 potholes.”
’Responsible to Citizens’
Ortega said the work the department does helps extend the life expectancy of Dallas streets with fiscal responsibility in mind. Premature capital projects are significantly reduced or eliminated. The department works on removal and replacement of curbs and gutters and some sidewalks; damaged guardrail removal and reinstallation; graffiti removal; repairing and cleaning curb inlets; bridge maintenance; and cleaning debris from drainage ditches to keep them flowing freely.
“We’re a general-fund department, meaning that all our financial resources come from taxes. We take that very seriously, and at all times, we recognize that every citizen in the city of Dallas is our customer. Fiscal responsibility is of utmost importance to us, so effective and efficient work results must be reliably and daily delivered,” said Ortega.
The City of Dallas Department of Street Services does it all with a staff of about 600. For greater efficiency, it sectioned the city into four districts, each with its own facilities and personnel. Other city departments are housed at those locations as well.
“We want to be able to respond to emergency situations quickly and effectively, with as little disruption as possible, and maximize efficiencies in our day-to-day operations. Having the city sectioned into four districts promotes these efficiencies,” said Ortega. “In addition to our daily crews in these four districts, we have a team that works our Central Business District [CBD] overnight. This night team sweeps all streets within the CBD, takes care of pothole repairs as needed, keeps the sidewalks clean and performs other duties as assigned. We are a 24/7 service department.”
The city of Dallas has purchased numerous pieces of equipment from Kirby-Smith Machinery Inc. Working with Governmental Sales Rep Sol Gieser, it has added Komatsu and Gradall excavators, Vögele pavers, Hamm compactors, hydraulic trailers and other products. The city performs much of its own maintenance, turning to Kirby-Smith as needed for extra help.
“Equipment that’s productive, reliable, efficient and backed by good service from the dealer is essential,” said Ortega. “We appreciate the fuel efficiency of the machinery we get from Kirby-Smith, and our crews like the production and power this equipment provides.”
Kirby-Smith Machinery helped sponsor the city’s recent Equipment Road-eo, a team-building event that gave employees an opportunity to run equipment in a friendly competition. Kirby-Smith supplied machines and awards.
“During the past few months that I’ve been with the city, I’ve gotten to know Sol and Kirby-Smith well,” said Ortega. “Both are impressive. They do a great job of meeting our equipment needs, from both the sales and service standpoints. The fact that they help with our Equipment Road-eo by supplying machines and personnel is a real testament to their excellent customer service.”
More Miles Ahead
Ortega tracks the progress of street improvements as crews work to complete projects across the city. Right now, crews are working on placing asphalt-base overlays on approximately 50 street-lane miles. Additionally, more than 480 lane mi. (772.5 km) will have been repaired by the end of September 2015. Aggregately, more than 530 street-lane miles overall will be repaired by this 2014-2015 fiscal year’s end.
“To ensure the roads are in the best shape possible, they need proper and prompt preventive maintenance and constant attention,” said Ortega. “In a city the size of Dallas, it’s likely the number of lane miles needing overlays will increase as well. We’re working hard to assess the upcoming needs so we are ready to continue offering the best-possible service for our citizens.”
Department of Street Services Holds Rodeo
The City of Dallas Department of Street Services held its third Equipment Road-eo in March, giving employees a chance to participate in a friendly competition that allowed everyone to operate machinery and earn prizes. This year was the largest Road-eo to date, with eight total events.
“This provides us an opportunity for camaraderie and team building, as well as showing the skill sets of various individuals,” said Dennis Ware, director of the Department of Street Services. “It also allows us to see what new equipment is out there in the industry.”
Events included excavator golf and bowling, where participants used Komatsu PC88MRs to knock over pins and put a tennis ball in a hole recessed into a dirt mound. Gehl V270s were employed for skid-steer basketball and an obstacle course. Other competitors fished with Gradall XL 4100s and ran Hamm HD 13 rollers through a course where they had to avoid hitting traffic cones. Kirby-Smith Machinery Inc. personnel, as well as manufacturer representatives from Gehl, Komatsu and Gradall, were on hand to help train participants to use the machinery.
Kirby-Smith Machinery Inc. supplied equipment and awards, and Gehl helped furnish shirts. Winners were determined based on the amount of time required to complete the events. Awards were given for individual events, and the overall grand-champion award went to Gilberto Cruz.
“We appreciate the city of Dallas and this is a great way for us to show that,” said Gieser. “It takes a lot of people and effort to make it work, but we are happy to be a part of it.”
“Kirby-Smith has been a great partner to the City of Dallas Department of Street Services, and that partnership has spanned a number of years now,” said Ware. “We’re fortunate to have them coordinate with us again on this event. Kirby-Smith has great products and good service after the sale.”
This story was reprinted with permission from Kirby Smith’s Connection Magazine.