As Winter Storm Elsa is set to bear down on the state, road crews are out getting ready.
Last week, Channel 3 reported that there is a real concern from the Department of Transportation commissioner that short staffing levels may impact the way roads are treated.
This storm will definitely test the limits of these crews.
On Tuesday afternoon, the plows were out, the trucks are being loaded with salt all ahead of yet another nor'easter tomorrow, but the question many have after our report, is will that be enough.
DOT crews have 11,000 lane miles of road to cover and Tuesday, officials say 300 miles were treated.
This is important because the pre-treating helps when the storm is over. Officials say it helps keep the snow from packing to the road, allowing for an easier cleanup.
Road maintenance itself was cast into question last week after DOT Commissioner Jim Redeker revealed that because the department has roughly 150 fewer plow crews out because of budget cuts, if a storm were to last more than 24 hours or see snowfall rates at an inch or more an hour, there may be some problems for crews that work a standard 18-hour shift.
“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.
In some spots, this storm is expected to drop some of the largest amounts of snow we've seen all season and it's expected to last from Wednesday into Wednesday night.
When Channel 3 asked DOT Spokesperson Kevin Nursick about the staffing levels today, he did confirm the state has hired 200 private contractors to combat Winter Storm Elsa’s wrath.
“We have all of our assets online, we have 634 state plow trucks and 200 private contractor trucks. I fully expect, based on the caliber of the weather event that we are seeing, that we are going to have everything out on the roads, so we'll have more than 800 plow trucks on the roads tomorrow,” said Nursick.
So, Winter Storm Elsa will be one of the bigger tests for these crews.
“The fact that we're going to have a significant portion of this storm hitting in the afternoon commute is a concern for us. All of those vehicles on the road during a heavy snowfall event is going to be slippery, that raises some alarms for us. Ideally, we'd like to see folks liking to make decisions today and tonight about whether or not they will be on the roads tomorrow,” Nursick said.
Stay with Channel 3 on air and on the app for the latest on Winter Storm Elsa.
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