The state has been relatively lucky this winter, with quick-hitting snow storms.
For the most part, snowfall has lasted less than 17 hours, and Channel 3 has uncovered a troubling detail in the event of a longer duration storm.
According to the top Department of Transportation official, that's the length of a plow shift. Now because of staffing cuts, if a storm is longer than 17 hours, they say, they might not have the manpower to cover these roads.
“A 15 percent reduction in staff which is over 400 people,” said DOT Commissioner Jim Redeker.
Roughly 150 of those 400 were people responsible for plowing the roads.
This is how the DOT says the shortage translates to poor road conditions: Redeker says on average, each plow consistently covers the same six mile stretch of road during the course of a 17-hour shift.
When that shift is over, drivers take a four-hour break.
“They have to get a relief at that point and there's not enough people to keep the plows going and give them a break at this level of staffing,” Redeker said.
So what will happen during a longer or more powerful storm? Redeker defines that, as one that lasts for more than 24 hours or is powerful enough where snowfall rates are at least an inch an hour.
“You would just see roads that just aren't cleared and frankly, we'd probably declare a state of emergency,” Redeker said.
According to Channel 3 meteorologists, we once again may dodge that scenario with this nor'easter. We could see snow falling at an inch an hour in the hills of western and northwest Connecticut, but not for 24 hours, not even 17 hours, the shift of a plow operator.
“Again, we have, knock on door, we've hit it lucky so far this season,” Redeker said.
If the DOT gets more funding, Redeker says these positions will be refilled, but as of now, this is where we stand for the rest of the winter.
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