Poughkeepsie… When snow began to fall yesterday at 1pm, Dutchess County Department of Public Works highway crews and support staff including mechanics and road patrollers reported for work and continue to work this morning responding to the 12 to 24 inches of snow that has fallen throughout the county in the last 20 hours. As of 9:00am this morning, all 395 miles of county highways are open and passable. Crews will continue to clear drifting snow and open intersections as the day goes on. Five new heavy duty snow plow trucks received this past summer made their inaugural run in this massive storm, as part of the county’s fleet of 32 snow plow/sander trucks used to fight this storm. Additionally, the county used two large snow-throwers to clear heavy drifts at isolated areas along the highway system.
“The new equipment certainly got put to the test with this storm,” said Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus. “When the first significant storm of the season drops one to two feet of snow, we were very glad to be prepared with the right equipment to keep our roads open and safe.”
County trucks began to plow and spread sand at 2:30pm on Sunday. Since then, crews have made five runs, plowing and spreading sand/salt mixture. Typically, a run will take approximately 2 to 2/12 hours. However, last night’s strong wind and heavy snow led to very poor visibility conditions, nearly doubling the time to complete a run.
The new vehicles are International-Navistar heavy-duty diesel-powered sander/plow trucks with front plows, wing plows and automated salt/sanding equipment. These automated salt spreader controllers allow county highway crews to calibrate how much salt per mile of road needs to be put down for a particular weather event and then adjust the speed of the spreader based on the speed of the snowplow. Dutchess County began using these automated spreader controllers in 2007 and have experienced significant savings in ice control materials. These spreaders are also important for environmental protection, since road salts can be harmful to the environment when applied excessively.
Dutchess County Department of Public Works also collaborates with nine towns including Pawling, Fishkill, Northeast and others, for snow removal on 95 miles of county highway through shared service agreements. These arrangements are mutually beneficial for the county and towns. The towns are paid to plow county roads that town road crews already have to travel over to get to connecting town roads and the county is able to concentrate its resources in other areas. Dutchess County has partnered with towns through these collaborative agreements for decades.
All county roads and intersections are expected to be substantially cleared by the end of the work day today, depending on the amount of drifting snow to be cleared. Final snow operations are expected to wrap up on Tuesday, December 28th. Residents who must drive are urged to be cautious and follow basic safety rules. Attached are some tips for motorists and the public to help the Dutchess County Department of Public Works best perform their snow and ice control duties.
Dutchess County Public Works employees were not the only busy ones as result of this storm. Dutchess County Emergency Response 911 dispatchers have handled over 540 calls since 1pm yesterday. Volume peaked late afternoon into the evening, with more than 115 calls from 9pm to 12pm last night. Typical call volume for a 24 hour period is approximately 400 to 450 calls. Calls have included disabled vehicles, property damage reports and wires down/power issues.
“Big storms like this are when county residents can really “see” the work of our great county employees, but in reality this is just part of the job these employees do every day, making sure our residents, our roads are safe all year round,” concluded County Executive Steinhaus.
For winter safety tips and information, visit www.dutchessny.gov
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How the Public Can Help with Storm Response Efforts
Be patient and be assured that during a snow or ice event, every reasonable effort will be made to keep the roads passable and safe.
Be informed of current and predicted weather conditions know your employers’ inclement weather policy. The fewer cars on the road, the more effective the plowing operations.
Be considerate of the snowplow operators. Their visibility is typically reduced due to the size and locations of various plow equipment mounted on the vehicle.
Do not attempt to stop a snowplow or obstruct its path. Plow trucks, when loaded with sand and salt, weigh approximately 30 tons. It is a significant load and requires all of the operator’s attention. The large trucks are not as maneuverable and agile as a passenger vehicle. They require extra time and distance to stop or avoid trouble.
When approaching snow removal equipment from the rear, travel a minimum of 200 feet behind the equipment to avoid being hit with sand or salt, and to allow for abrupt movements and changes in direction, including unexpected backing of the plow truck.
Use extreme caution when passing snow removal equipment. The truck operator’s visibility is typically reduced due to the size and locations of various plow equipment mounted on the vehicle. It is advisable to not pass a plow truck.
Do not park or leave a vehicle unattended along the roadway during a snow or ice event. Parked vehicles are a hazard not only to the snowplow operators but the traveling public as well. Any cars that are parked along the roadway may be called in to the Dutchess County Sherriff’s Office for removal.
When clearing driveways put the snow on the “down” side relative to the direction of travel by the snowplow. This will reduce the amount of snow re-deposited by the plow truck onto the driveway and minimize the amount of additional snow to be removed from the driveway.
During times of severe storms or blizzard conditions, tune to local radio stations for information on travel advisories or official road closings.