February 10, 2023

City Sweeps Average of 2500 Tons of Material from City Streets



(Photo: City sweeper crews also work inside sometimes. They were called in to assist in cleaning up the Summit Arena after the massive Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo)

RAPID CITY, SD—They don’t possess the speed of the police cruisers, the brawn of the Solid Waste dumpsters or the girth of the dump trucks and plows over at the City streets department.  When it comes to speed and maneuverability, they are the sloths of the City fleet.

            They are the City Street Sweepers – the equivalent of the shovel-bearing workers that follow the horses and elephants in the downtown parade.  But they play a key role in keeping the city clean.

            Consider this: City Street Department crews have swept an average of more than 2500 tons of material from city streets the last three years.

            Yes, TONS!  By most accounts, that’s a lot of gravel, dirt, rock and other debris!

            The City’s fleet of 10 sweepers remains busy throughout all four seasons of the year.

            “Our sweepers are kept busy,” said City Street Superintendent Dale Pfeifle.  “Considering the traffic, the construction, our changing weather patterns, the winds, it all builds up quickly on our streets.

            “It’s not just the dirt and gravel. It’s the cups, the bottles, cigarette butts, paper items. Our crews work to keep the streets clean of the debris.”

            The sweepers collect material left behind from the thousands of cars traveling city streets on a daily basis, pick up debris residing on streets and gutters produced from various weather conditions, and round up material in a wash out produced from spring rains.

            Pfeifle says crews work in residential areas during the day and main line areas at night for safety reasons to minimize interaction with traffic.  The collected material is dropped off at the Street Shop detention area on Steele Avenue, dried and then taken to the Rapid City Landfill, which uses the material for cover.

            “It’s a slow process but an important part of keeping our community clean,” says Pfeifle, noting the sweepers operate at about five miles per hour when collecting material. The vehicles display bright lights to alert the public of their presence. 

            The sweepers help reduce the dirt, dust and debris buildup on roads and are part of the important role of street department crews along with snow removal and patching potholes.

            Pfeifle urges drivers to use caution when approaching or passing street sweepers and to be mindful of oncoming traffic in the work area.

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