Keeping roads clear, families safe

By Michelle Costanza

Keeping roads clear, families safe

December 14, 2013 Updated Dec 14, 2013 at 12:55 AM EDT

Kirkwood, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Plow operators will spend the weekend on around-the-clock shifts, contending with the worst of the snow so motorists don't have to.

Maintenance crews are split into two teams, and hit the roads Friday night with plows engaged and salt wells filled.

Each driver is assigned a route, roughly amounting to 50 miles of four- to six-lane highway stretches, or the equivalent of two-lane county roads.

According to the Department of Transportation, the largest trucks can hold up to 10 or 12 tons of salt, though re-filling is a constant process.

Built-in computer systems allow operators to monitor the amount of salt in the truck, and control how much is dropped onto the roads.

"In a good storm you're usually putting down 225 pounds of salt per lane mile," said Highway Maintenance Worker Venley McGregor.

McGregor's route takes two hours to complete, and is circled five of six times in his 12-hour shift.

Plow operators stay in constant communication with each other and law enforcement, to keep the slickest spots under careful watch.

Because conditions can become treacherous very quickly, the DOT encourages all motorists to take extra caution, even on treated roads.

"It's important to know it will still be slippery," said Dave Hamburg, DOT's public information officer. "If it's coming down, you're still going to have snow-covered roads."

"Just give me a little space to do my job, because I'll make the roads a lot safer for the people out there," said McGregor.

Maintenance crews gave Boy Scout Troop 208 a tour of the plow trucks Friday night, and showed them what happens behind the wheel of the big machines.

"It's good for everyone to understand what we're doing here, that we'll be here before and after a storm. We work hard," said highway maintenance worker Jimmy Medovich,

Crews will be on the roads until the snow ends, and they are asking drivers to be careful and courteous.

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