I spent a few hours with our highway crew tonight observing the snow removal operation. Larry MacDonald, a hard working and dedicated foreman with our highway department took me on a tour of snow removal operations around town. Later in the evening I rode the larger highway truck that is used to keep our roads passable. Larry rose up the ranks to become foreman --has been working for the town for 25 years. And, will be retiring in August. He's a terrific employee who really cares about the town.
I learned a lot from Larry and have a greater appreciation for the work that our public works team does, thanks to our dialogue tonight. The roads were slippery when I started out -around 6 PM. Mr. MacDonald indicated that he thought this was the 7th weekend of snow storms. "Roads get slippery when the weather keeps changing--melting and freezing conditions." He mentioned that it's important to salt the roads immediately after plowing the roads. We salted the roads beginning in the early afternoon today. And, the plowing started in the early evening. If we salt the roads and immediately plow after the salting we waste money since the plowing gets rid of the salt. About 30 trucks/vehicles were assigned to the snow clearing operation ---32 square miles or 130 miles of roads. We clear the major roads first and than clear the secondary roads--takes about 5-6 hours to clear the entire town of snow. The major roads will be cleared more frequently.
The big problem we experienced: obstructions. We drove down Ridge Road in Hartsdale. There was a Con Ed obstruction that our vehicle had to go around. A plate on the road. If we did not go around the plate the plate would have moved and there would be a hole in the ground from the gas leak.
Another problem: We saw people push snow back on the road immediately after we cleared the road of snow. Not only does this create slippery road conditions quickly but drivers have to be on the lookout for residents who are in the middle of the road -throwing the snow back in the road. Slows down the operation. We stopped the vehicle on Rockledge to allow an elderly woman, with a cane, to cross the street. Our drivers have to be careful- obstructions and people.
During the evening we observed a car stuck on Secor Road. The foreman I drove with blocked the road with his car and encouraged the motorist to back up. By blocking the road the driver did not have to worry about hitting someone. We don't push cars that are stuck.
We were in a neighborhood in town with lots of cars parked on both sides of the road--a big highway plow truck was not able to get through the bend in the road. The highway truck driver was very angry --the road obstructions not only make it difficult to clear streets but it slows down the entire snow clearing operation. We need to do a better job of enforcing our no parking on roads ordinance -especially during snow storms. Sections of the town where cars are parked on both sides of the street: Fieldstone, Rockledge, Fairview.
If cars are parked on the road while our plows are passing by - there is a risk that if the truck goes over some ice and skids - the cars on the road could be damaged. After most snow storms we receive complaints from residents of broken mailboxes. The mailboxes are usually on town right of ways --we repair the broken mailboxes.
A highlight of the evening was my visit to the Theodore Young Community Center --which was being used as a warming center. The gym was in use --with lots of people enjoying the recreational activities. It's nice to see that the community center is used by so many people --even during snow storm.
Towards the end of the evening I experienced riding in a 1979 Mack truck (a much bigger vehicle). The plow truck ride was very bumpy and uncomfortable. We have 4 trucks still in operation from 1979. Tonight some of our newer trucks experienced some problems. 2 flat tires...one of our trucks had to be towed back to the highway garage. Our repair shop will repair each of the vehicles. It costs $262,000 to replace a truck. And, we try keeping our vehicles in use as long as possible to save you money.
A special thank you to Public Works Commissioner Victor Carosi and his deputy, Richard Fon, for arranging for tonights tour. And, a special thanks to Pat Richards for also meeting up us. Pat is one of the most dedicated employees of the town--she will be retiring later this month.
We anticipate that garbage collection WILL be ON for tomorrow. We're basing this on weather forecasts. If circumstances change we will issue an advisory.