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Snow, cold conditions keep body shops busy

Brad Phenow

Wisconsin Public Radio

Auto body shops are swamped after last week’s snowstorm covered the Northland with wet snow followed by below zero temperatures leaving the some roads covered in ice.

Business usually picks up for auto body shops after the first snowfall. This year, the phrase ‘picked up’, doesn’t do justice. With the perfect combination of heavy snow and freezing temperatures vehicles have been sliding, slamming, and colliding with just about anything.

Chad Steltz is the estimator at Len’s Auto Body in Superior. He says their phone has been ringing off the hook.

“Lots of fender-benders, a lot of front ends, hitting guard rails, and sliding into other vehicles,” he said.

He says banged-up cars after been pulling in one after another.

“Yesterday I wrote 13 estimates, the day before I wrote another 12 estimates. I have probably written up about 50 some estimates and then we’ve had other ones that have been written up from adjusters sent to us”

Kelly Jones of Johnny’s Auto Body in Superior says they have seen mainly fender-benders.

“Lots of replacing bumpers, and headlights, mostly front and back kind of stuff. But he’s booked about three weeks out right now,” Jones said.

She says it’s hard to keep track of all the estimates they’ve done.

“We’ve done tons of estimates. We’ve had cars towed in, we’ve had people just drive in and they’re like well, just fix it as soon as you can,” she said.

But as soon as you can is looking like after the New Year. They’re currently booked.

Nathan Johnstad is the Street Superintendent for the city of Superior. He says the main and secondary routes are relatively clean but some streets are still covered in ice.

“The problem you get into is the more residential areas where we have had trucks plows plowing and they weren’t able to scrape up that heavy wet compacted snow on the roads prior to getting this cold snap.”

He says it is tough to play catch up with such low temperatures.

“Any of your road treatments as far as your salts, salt sand mix or anything like that is pretty much ineffective when it gets to these sub-zero temperatures. Until things warm up a little bit I don’t think conditions are going to really improve too much on them residential streets,” he said.

Duluth is fighting the same problem. But a release from street maintenance says they’ve figured out a new brine solution to tackle the caked ice so they’re finally making progress, but it helps if nature chips in too. The release says sunshine and warmer temperatures will help them chip away at the ice problem.

Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard locally on 91.3 KUWS-FM and online at