FAIRBANKS — The city of Fairbanks road crew watched with excitement Tuesday as the corkscrew blades of the city’s new Kodiak CR 3200S snow blower spun and the vehicle rolled forward, clearing a practice snow berm in moments.
The mustard yellow vehicle is the latest addition to the city of Fairbanks’ snow removal equipment and is easier to operate and more fuel efficient than its older counterparts.
City Public Works Director Michael Schmetzer said the snow blower, which cost about $330,000, is a much-needed addition to the city’s fleet and will help clear streets faster.
“We’re really proud of it,” Schmetzer said.
The rest of the city’s snow removal fleet is made up of loader-mounted snow blowers that are well-suited for deep snow on highways, but not as maneuverable on tight neighborhood streets. The vehicles are two parts, the blower and the loader, requiring two engines and two fuel tanks.
The new snow blower is an all-in-one package manufactured by Idaho-based Kodiak America. The relatively diminutive package is driven, the vehicle and the blower, by one 450-horse power Caterpillar engine that’s estimated to cut fuel bills, compared to the older machines, by a third.
Both types of vehicles have a spout that feeds snow into trucks to be transported to snow dumps.
The machine was delivered and assembled Monday and Trevor Anderson of Kodiak America was on site Tuesday to fine tune the device to Fairbanks’ light, powdery snow.
“This is pretty much our city vehicle,” he said. Kodiak makes and sells a variety of snow blowers to the state as well as companies on the North Slope. “It’s more fuel efficient, better on the environment and you can easily get it into cul-de-sacs.”
Last winter, the city of Fairbanks also added a pint-sized snow plow designed to clear sidewalks.
The new snow blower likely will see use on most of the city’s streets in the coming weeks, Schmetzer said.
“We’ve revised the snow program over the last few years, so we’re picking up snow a lot more quickly,” he said. “We’ve added two more trucks and we’re hoping to get streets cleared a lot quicker than before.”