CARS HOMES JOBS

Long storm keeps plows busy

Officials: Taking breaks is key

Friday, February 14, 2014
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— Crews around the region worked through the day and night trying to keep the area’s roads clear of snow.

The passing storm dropped well over a foot of snow in some areas and did so over as much as 24 hours.

That meant local highway departments had to keep the plows moving.

They do so by keeping drivers on the road — but rested and fed as much as possible.

“It was coming up on 24 hours before dawn this morning. That’s when they really showed,” Clifton Park Highway Superintendent Richard Kukuk said Friday afternoon.

He noted getting the drivers to eat and rest is important.

Snow started falling on the region Thursday morning. That first blast was then followed by about a six- to eight-hour lull, according to the National Weather Service.

The second blast came after midnight Friday morning, sometimes coming down quickly. Albany International Airport, which reported 14.4 inches in all, saw 3 inches come down in the 2 a.m. hour.

“Basically it was a 24-hour storm,” meteorologist Brian Frugis said.

Clifton Park saw 15.6 inches of snow, which had to be cleared from 215 miles of road. Double that to get both lanes and the plows need to cover 430 miles to clear everything.

Niskayuna’s first pass started around 10 a.m. Thursday. Crews kept at it, taking breaks to stop, eat and rest. They then went out again.

“You just keep kind of almost chasing it, waiting for it to stop,” Niskayuna Highway Superintendent Frank Gavin said.

The overnight hours saw the heaviest snow, Gavin said, but that’s also the best time to plow, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

“They just keep plugging along,” Gavin said. “You take your time. It’s harder to see and definitely much slower. The good thing is that the heavy snow was overnight when nobody was on the road.”

Highway crews also had to contend with residents’ expectations.

Glenville Highway Superintendent Tom Coppola said plowing takes time, especially when the snow keeps coming down.

And when it finally stops, it takes time to finish the job.

“Somebody’s always first and somebody’s always last,” Coppola said.

The highway officials said they were keeping an eye on their budgets for the winter, but didn’t report any problems.

By mid-afternoon in Clifton Park, crews were coming in from their final runs.

“They’re all very tired now,” Kukuk said.

 
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