HUNTSVILLE, ALa. (WHNT) – They are everywhere you look around Huntsville following last week’s three-day winter weather event: on curbs, in street drains – even in front yards.
They are the silent, helpless victims of a winter storm; ripped from their natural habitats, separated from friends and family, ravaged and left to meet whatever demise they may on the roadways of north Alabama.
Okay, we’re talking street reflectors here, but costly street reflectors nonetheless.
There are thousands strewn about the city, scraped away during attempts to clear snow and slush last week.
In about a 10 minute time span just around downtown Huntsville proper I was able to rescue nearly 30 of these ever-helpful nighttime road guides – now tossed aside like yesterday’s trash.
Mayor Tommy Battle had the novel idea, after stooping to pick a few up himself last week, to start a reflector recycling campaign – but many of his department heads stopped that idea in its tracks.
“Many of them rolled their eyes at the idea and said the reflectors cost $4.99 each, and it would take more than that to refurbish them,” Battle said at a press conference Wednesday held to discuss the costs of winter weather.
But Battle did get to capitalize on his recycling idea – sort of. He walk into the news conference boasting a bagful of our reflective friends. He handed them out as “Reflectors of Honor” to laud his department heads for their handwork, long hours and dedication during the winter storm – some officials were reported to have slept on cots at various offices around town in an effort to immediately ready crews.
Battle said it would cost “thousands” to replace all the reflectors around the city, but said the decision to scrape roads and commit “reflectorcide” as it were, was well worth the risk and residual cost.
“We’d much rather have done that and have to replace them then to have our roads paralyzed and our city completely shut down for 3 days,” Battle said.
In addition to the cost incurred for replacing reflectors, Battle said water freezing and expanding in road crevices can wreak havoc. He says it is definitely pothole season and public works’ pothole division will certainly be busy for several months responding to and filling newly created crumbly road conditions around the city.