As temperatures drop, the prospect of snow-covered roads may only be a few weeks away as we head into winter.
With the Old Farmer’s Almanac website calling for a “cold and snowy” winter in Delaware, we checked with road crews to see if they were ready and faced a shortage of plow operators.
The forecast is particularly bleak in six states – Colorado, Ohio, Oregon, Michigan, Missouri and Pennsylvania – which each need to hire more than 100 people, according to USA Today. In Pennsylvania, the York Daily Record reports that PennDOT has only hired 25% of the 695 temporary drivers it seeks to supplement full-time staff.
For now, the Delaware agencies are not worried.
“We have no driver issues at this time,” said DelDOT’s director of community relations, Charles R. McLeod. “Our salt supply is currently at 80% of our capacity, so no problem there. We have several salt barns which are in the process of being replaced or renovated, so we are not at 100 percent yet. We have contracts for rock salt, and there is no shortage.
Wilmington is also in good shape, according to Kelly Williams, the city’s public works commissioner.
“We’re ready,” Williams said. “We do not anticipate a major disruption.”
Williams said the town has “a few vacancies that we are in the process of filling as we speak” and has snow removal contracts in place for equipment and materials like salt.
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DelDOT has approximately 14,000 miles of road to clear and over 330 pieces of snow removal equipment including snow plows, loaders and graders. About 600 maintenance and operations employees are available to respond to a snowfall, usually divided into different shifts.
“We have people who are qualified to drive [a snowplow] but that’s not their main role, but they are able to do it, especially in a long storm where we have to turn the staff around and rest the people, ”said McLeod.
Personnel will vary for a storm depending on duration, intensity and location.
“Our primary focus during any storm is the freeways: I-95, I-495, Route 1, Route 301, Route 13, Route 113, Route 896,” McLeod said. “Once these main roads are in good condition, we start working on the secondary roads. “
Wilmington has about 200 miles of streets to travel on, not counting the main roads managed by DelDOT.
The City’s snow removal equipment includes:
• 33 dump trucks with plows and spreaders.
• 26 vans with plows, including 10 with spreaders.
• 2 utility trucks with plows.
• 2 bodywork trucks with stakes for snow removal.
• 5 backhoes.
• 2 front loaders.
• 2 small Bobcat front loaders.
• 4 mechanical brine units.
Wilmington has 64 workers specifically assigned to snow, but other municipal workers are available to help if needed.
According to weather reports, pre-storm work may include spreading a mixture of brine on streets and, in problem areas, salt and sand.
When the snow falls, urban snow plow drivers are first dispatched to the main roads. As these roads are cleared, supervisors redirect crews to emergency snow roads, followed by side roads, side streets, and neighborhoods.
MORE WEATHER NEWS:How much snow will we have this winter? We check with the Old Farmer’s Almanac for a prediction.
Cost of snow
DelDOT’s winter storm budget for this fiscal year is $ 10 million. Last year, the state spent about $ 8 million on winter storm operations.
In Wilmington, the city spent $ 191,700 of the $ 417,000 budgeted for fiscal year 2021 for snow removal and equipment rentals, saving $ 225,300.
Spending for fiscal year 2021 was higher than for 2020, but lower than for fiscal 2018 and 2019, said Vincent Carroccia, the city’s deputy public works commissioner.
Equipment rentals have been reduced by replacing some city vehicles with others that can help in snowy weather, such as vans with salt bins so staff can manage more quarters.
“There have also been less severe storms in recent years that have allowed us to handle the majority of snow removal with our own forces, and we have not had to bring any equipment under contract,” he said. said Carroccia.
A heavy snowfall can really drive up expenses, but so can ice.
“Heavy snow requires more snow removal and in some cases snow extraction, which means we have to move large piles of snow to other areas of the city,” Carroccia said. “Ice storms and freezing rain require more road treatment with salt and brine, so material costs are higher. “
How can I help you
Williams said a common problem is when snow is thrown onto a road that has been plowed.
According to the city code: “By removing ice and snow from sidewalks, it is illegal to deposit part of it in the gutters or on the roadway forming part of such a public street. This snow and ice must be placed on the sidewalk at or near the curb.
Another problem is trying to clear snow around parked cars that should have been moved before the storm along emergency roads. A third danger is the refreezing of melting snow, causing patches of ice, even on snow-cleared roads.
Residents of Wilmington who have questions about a street in need of snow removal or salting can call the Public Works Storm Center at 302-576-3878 or email [email protected]
DelDOT snowplows have tracking software to show residents where the snowplows are operating. When active during a storm, the tracking map is on www.deldot.gov and the DelDOT mobile app.
Contact reporter Ben Mace at [email protected]