To prepare for the predicted nor’easter, New York state had 1,789 plows, 359 loaders and 4,185 operators stationed and ready to go Wednesday night, along with 291,000 tons of salt, according to a press release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. Local officials said they, too, were busy preparing for this winter’s latest storm.
Normally at this point in the winter season, only half of Delaware County’s salt provision has been used, Delaware County Department of Public Works officials said Wednesday. But because of this year’s slew of snow storms, more than 80 percent of that supply is gone.
Rob Conklin, general highway supervisor for the southern section of Delaware County’s roadways, said 11,000 tons of salt has been used throughout the county so far this year. That’s worth roughly half a million dollars, Conklin said.
Conklin said the county has been trying to make the salt last longer by being more frugal with it.
“We’ve found that if we just plow and hold off on salting the roads until the storm is over, we use less salt because that way we’re not salting and then plowing the salt right off the road again,” Conklin said.
Conklin said his crew of 30 men use 15 county plow trucks, with two men per truck for safety reasons. He said plowing crews are broken up into seven patrols and officials prioritize which roads are plowed first in these zones depending on each road’s traffic flow. County Routes 21 and 26, which have heavy traffic, are usually two of the first roads to be plowed, Conklin said.
“But the No. 1 priority is plowing the school bus routes,” Conklin said.
Drivers of plow trucks usually wait until there is at least one inch of snow on the road, Conklin said, and normally plow from around 5 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., depending on the severity of the storm.
If the winter continues to be a snowy one, Conklin said, the county may have to dip into its summer budget, which normally goes toward blacktop repairs.
While some locals might call the winter we’ve been experiencing “harsh,” Gerry Townsend, deputy highway superintendent of the Town of Colchester, called it “old fashioned,” saying it’s the type of winter that locals used to expect in this area.
Townsend said the town has used a lot more sand and salt this year than in recent years. The town processes its own sand, Townsend said, but buys its salt from a provider in Buffalo. Townsend said town officials usually order only 150 tons of salt at a time, but more than 2,000 tons are used each winter.
In Colchester, county Routes 206 and 7 are usually plowed first around 5 a.m., Townsend said, along with the main bus routes. Colchester has nine plow trucks, Townsend said.
In villages and cities, including the Village of Cooperstown, on-street parking adds an extra element of difficulty during snow removal.
Brian Clancy, the Village of Cooperstown’s public works superintendent, said his road crew tries to cooperate with residents who park on the side of the street.
“If vehicles are a hazard to our plowing, we will have them towed,” Clancy said, “but we really try as much as we can to work around them.”
Before a big storm, Clancy said, plows have to be checked to make sure they are operating correctly and “sanders,” as he called the salt machines, are put on the village’s small trucks. When the snow starts to fall, a 4 a.m. plowing crew goes out to start the snow removal process, Clancy said. He said the village has issued a snow emergency warning twice this winter.
The first roads to be plowed in Cooperstown are Chestnut Street, Main Street and the main routes to Bassett Hospital, Clancy said. He said there are four separate routes that get plowed, and plowing crews are split into two shifts, one beginning early in the morning and one taking over in the afternoon and plowing until roughly 11 p.m.
Clancy said the village is fortunately right on budget and on track, as far as its resources.
“We tend to use less salt when we use the smaller sanders because they spread it out more evenly,” Clancy said.
With the nor’easter expected to last through Thursday, the press release from Cuomo’s office urged state agencies to prepare for the large storm and reminded citizens to avoid unnecessarily travel.
According to the release, all Thruway and New York State Department of Transportation maintenance headquarters will be fully staffed around the clock for the duration of the storm.