Friday, February 19, 2010

Project for an engineer

Ok, so it may be totally off the wall and impractical, but the other day, as I was driving, I thought about snow removal techniques used in various cities. There was an interesting AP article the other day about how some cities handle snow (sorry, couldn't find it on the AP site). New York's method of melting the snow made me think.

Is there a simple solution? What about heated streets and sidewalks? Some houses use radiant heating, plus the sidewalks on campus tend to be clear where the steam tunnels run, which gave me the idea. Could streets and sidewalks be installed in such a way as to allow radiant heating somehow?

Think of the possibilities! Turn on the heat as snow starts and streets could be kept clear as the water runs into drainage systems. With monitoring, the heat could be turned off and on as needed with minimal expense in terms of staffing. And the monitoring could come from a few city employees and/or police and/or cc monitoring. If done with electricity, you'd still have to pay some electricity usage, but that would probably be less than manpower, gas, salt, etc. Steam tunnels could be effective in some areas, with the steam used to heat buildings, etc. I admit, installing a system would probably be very costly, but could it save money in the long run? Both for a city in not having to plow streets and possibly pay overtime to drivers or police and for citizens by having fewer accidents and keeping roads open so businesses could stay open.

So, I'm no engineer, but if someone is and wants to comment either why this is a great idea or why it would never work, I'd love to 'hear' some feedback. Maybe someone already thought of this and it just wouldn't work.

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