Another victim of our record-breaking snowfalls? City leaf pickup programs

Push your leaves into the road they said. We'll pick them up they said.

Well, the city of Livonia is picking them up. But an arctic push from mother nature to blanket Michigan in snow, and then freeze that precipitation for the ensuing days isn't making it easy.

"Normally they're really really good about picking up the snow but I kind of thought they just weren't really ready for this big snow like the rest of us," said Barbara Whitmarsh, a resident of Livonia.

But picking up leaves is supposed to be easy. With some well-adapted equipment and a city-mandated schedule, Livonia's Public Works Department autumn task is not one of its more tedious tasks - that is until a record-breaking snowfall comes months too soon. 

"We're in the middle of our leaf program - we still have a month to go," said Director of Public Works Dan Rohraff. "One of the negatives of going in and plowing obviously is we blow all of the leaves from the streets into the yards."

To plow or to pick up leaves, that was the question faced by the department. They chose the latter.

"The decision was made to just go in and salt all the streets to help break them up and that way we can continue with the leaf program," said Rohraff.

So on Wednesday, the city was out scooping up clumps of snow with leaves peaking out of the coagulated clumps.

"The leaf program is - we circle through the city (on) every street," he said. "Residents push the leaves out, blow them out, dump bags out at the curb. We come through with a couple of different processes, either the claws that are on the front of backhoes and load them into the back of rear-loading packer trucks, or we have a leaf-vacuum process that blows into the back of our equipment."

While the decision to not plow wasn't an easy one, the decision comes down to which equipment is best fitted to deal with the city's problems. 

"We try to buy equipment that we can use all year long, but when you start to get those trucks and you're putting in cages and different things in the back to collect leaves, those are the same trucks that we need to take that equipment out to be able to go out and salt the roads," said Rohraff. "It's a very strong labor-intensive type thing to get that equipment out and then get it back." 

The trucks are set to be flipped for winter the second week of December 

"Decisions that were made, we tried to think through everything and do what's right and the leaf program is very important," said Rohraff.