In a few weeks, winter may be behind us.  As such, you will soon be making the pivot from winter maintenance to spring and summer activities.  If you don’t already have one, now might be a good time to sit down with the crew for a little brainstorming and develop a checklist of things to take care of before summer is fully upon us.

Do a good walk around.  You can do a windshield survey if you are time crunched (which you are), but don’t underestimate the value of literally walking down the sidewalk.  Are there new trip hazards?  Are there shade trees in need of pruning?  Are storm drains clogged?  Did the winter leave you some potholes and while you’re at it, what is the general condition of the pavement?  Are there signs in need of replacement?  How are your pavement markings holding up?  Have residents gotten a little sloppy with trash cans, basketball hoops, and other barriers left in the sidewalk?

Drainage.  Did the winter result in some rutting or erosion that has diverted or blocked drainage?  Better to go look for it and remediate before the adjoining landowner shows up at town hall with a complaint about how you’re putting “your water” on them.  Remove debris from the storm drain inlets, of course, but also have a look down in there (but watch out for Pennywise the Clown) to make sure you are debris free before the big spring rains come.

Mower and other equipment maintenance.  You probably have commercial mowers and other equipment that have been sitting since last fall.  Oil changes and the like are due for sure, but those 2-stroke engines (weed-eaters and their ilk) get particularly cranky when they sit for several months (unless you were proactive in the fall – good for you!), so a startup and warm up now can make them feel loved and take away your worry about them starting up when you need them.  If you haven’t already, going over all the mowers and related equipment is important right about now.  Spark plugs, fuel filters, and air cleaners should all be checked while you’re changing oil and filters.  Also check the condition of blades and get everything ready for startup.

Contracts for milling, paving, crack sealing, or other pavement preservation methods.  Remember that for most of these, you will have to navigate a maze of procurement deadlines, fiscal year restrictions on funding, contractor availability, community festivals and special events, and weather to find those windows of opportunity.  These are reason enough to start your planning for these contracts and other maintenance work, so you don’t miss some of those windows.

Got playgrounds?  A good inspection is in order before the warm weather mobs come.  Make sure you don’t have anything broken or other safety concerns.  Ground covers should be restored to a state of good repair.  Check signage, including any list of rules of conduct or safety warnings, and make sure everything is up to date.

Are you nearing the end of your fiscal year?  Are there some unused funds?  If so, consider some of those consumables you will be looking for in a few months anyway – think salt for winter maintenance, cutting edges, maybe a replacement for that spare lift cylinder you had to use this winter.  Get ahead of the fall rush and take one thing off your plate for later this year.

What else aren’t we thinking of?  Well, each local agency is a little different, so how are we to know.  That’s why we think it’s a great idea to pull the crew together and do a little brainstorming.  Everyone sees things from a slightly different angle and lots of eyes, well, you get the point.  Put your heads together and assemble your own checklist.  Then, see how much of it you can actually squeeze in this spring.

The Delaware T2/LTAP Center’s Municipal Engineering Circuit Rider is intended to provide technical assistance and training to local agencies and so if you need someone to take notes during the brainstorming or have other transportation issues, contact Matt Carter at or (302) 831-7236.

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