Officially, it’s known as the “City of Redwood Falls Street Shop Maintenance Facility”; informally, it’s just “the shop”.
In olden days, the equipment for maintaining Redwood’s streets could be stored mostly in the old streets department building on the south edge of town, just off Highway 71. Like farm equipment, however, the gear used for fixing the town’s streets has just gotten bigger over the years. As of this month, the streets crew is more or less finished moving into its new facility across the highway. Officially, it’s known as the “City of Redwood Falls Street Shop Maintenance Facility”. Informally, it’s just “the shop”. “We have to work half a season ahead, so we’re already doing our spring clean-up prep,” said Mertens. “This new shop has worked out very, very nice. It’s very practical and usable. You start getting some of these big pieces of equipment in here, and it takes up a lot of room. At slightly over 12 feet tall, one of the largest pieces of equipment is a vacuum cleaner that takes up the entire back end of a large truck. Used for cleaning out sewers, the vacuum cleaner truck was too big to fit into the old shop. “We couldn’t repair our trucks in the old shop,” said Mertens. “The widest door in our old shop was 11 feet. The new shop has one 20 foot wide door, and the rest are 16 feet wide. “January 14 was the first day in 23 years we were able to bring a payloader with a cutting plow inside to change the blades,” said Mertens. “Before that, we had to do it outside. You try to hook up a snowplow when it’s 20 below, and it’s not a lot of fun. “We can drive our trucks and payloaders with (snowplow) wings right inside. It’s just nice to have the room, and it’s a lot easier on our equipment.” The old shop used to be the Scenic City Coop before the city bought it in the mid-1980s. The current shop is 72 x 150 feet, with heating units built into the floors. One of the nicest features of the new service area is a walk-in pit built into the floor. The truck or payloader can be driven over it, and mechanics can work in much more safety and comfort standing below it. The service area also has much better air circulation, and a hose and pump system for moving used oil out to a safe storage tank in back. The streets department doesn’t just handle big equipment. The new welding and fabrication room, complete with five-ton overhead hoist, allows them to maintain and create new gear as needed. In winter especially, the equipment gets filthy. Giving it a good cleaning immediately after plowing roads helps the gear last, so an indoor washing bay was added. “The room’s heating is all built into the floor, so we can let the snowplows drip-dry, and the floors are dry the next morning, It’s unreal,” said Mertens. Final cost for the facility came to $1,137,121, or about $8,256 under budget. “It’s kinda danged nice,” said Mertens.