The following message regarding why plowing was interrupted was received from Director of Public Works John Phillips at 7:11 p.m. on Saturday. "I just don’t know how else to explain the duration of time it takes to meet the expectations of my valued residents," he said.
Tonight I had to make the hard choice and call off 90 percent of my drivers. Their life safety after being at this for 36 straight hours is more important than the streets we just couldn’t get to today. The guys were on edge, full of stress and I could see the physical fatigue in their eyes. I could not live with myself if something happened to them because I pushed too hard. I’m not in Iraq any longer.
I’m sure several thousand residents think I’m incompetent tonight. It came down to the life safety of my operators and the public that shares the road with them vs. leaving a street unplowed for 8 more hours (We will be back at 100 percent staff at 3 a.m.) I do have four troopers sticking it out for true emergencies and the rapid response to clear the road for such calls.
I feel bad but it’s the right thing to do.
Here is a quick summary of what we do beginning with your street plow operation:
We have 30 plow routes to cover the 215 miles of road. We have 21 professional snow and ice control operators with associated specialized equipment.
Each road mile typically require 4 to 6 pass to clear one time. We can plow our routes several times during a large snow event. We rely on 10 subcontractors.
Local snow plow operating is truly a developed skill set that not everyone in the commercial driver arena posses. Quality subs are hard to come by. Subcontracting out this type of work is a calculated risk compared to having to pay the salaries and benefits of a year round plow operator workforce just to plow/de-ice snow 17 times a year on average. We have four operations managers to cover 21 square miles.
Snow plow operating is very rigorous work. The physical and metal demand it takes to be a plow truck driver is difficult to explain to anyone who has never experienced it or tried it for themselves.
A high level of multi-tasking take place in the cabs of those 60,000 lb trucks pushing a 2.5 ton chunk of steel on a imperfect surface with a contantly changing geography (buried in a non-contrasting blanket of fresh white snow).
They are required to operate a truck with levers for plows, de-icing equipment, and transmission gears. They must watch gauges that measure load capacity and engine operations. They must be mindful of traffic, pedestrians and other unforeseeable obstacles.
These professional men and women must do all this while being accountable for their life safety and the life safety others who share the road with them. They do all this in the worst possible weather conditions imaginable while managing their own personal fatigue.
It takes a unique individual to be able to pull all that has to be done together and be successful each time on the road. We just completed 36 hour non-stop work shift during the worst blizzard to hit the town in anyone’s memory. Just saying.