By Doug La Rocque
Two Nor’esters in less than a week, and a third underway as we publish. It not only piles up to a lot of snow, but a lot of headaches for area towns and the Rensselaer County Highway Department. One of the biggest problems is dirt roads. The higher than normal February temperatures means the frost has come out of the ground, making these roads very soft and twice as hard to plow. It also mean a lot of localities have had various size snow fighting equipment get stuck or slide off the road.
In Grafton it was just such an occurrence for the operator of a tandem plow, trying to turn around at the end of Clickner Road. It took the town two days to remove the truck, primarily because of what Highway Superintendent Herb Hasbrouck said was an unavailability of large tow vehicles during the storm. It was eventually pulled out with the help of a large skidder.
In Petersburgh, Town Supervisor Alan Webster says the highway department plowed all the dirt roads with the one-ton pickups, loaded with sand. Their two larger vehicles stayed on the paved highways, putting down a mix of salt and sand. Supervisor Webster says it took a little longer to clear all the roads this way, but there was no damage to vehicles, and overall, the town received several compliments about the work of the road crews. That was also the case in Grafton, as residents at Monday, March 12’s Town Board meeting mentioned roads they thought were well maintained during the most recent storm.
It wasn’t just dirt roads that caused problems. Rensselaer County Highway works on paved highways, but they too had their concerns, primarily wear and tear. County Engineer Wayne Bonesteel tells the Eastwick Press, five trucks went down during the last storm, but four of them have been repaired and they are ready for round three of March’s bout with Mother Nature.
All the highway chiefs we spoke to say they have enough sand and salt stockpiled for this current storm, but beyond that, there may be some supply problems. Mr. Bonesteel says if it weren’t for the easy winter months last year, when they were able to stockpile salt and sand, this year’s requirements would have been a budget buster. The other two concerns, are both fatigue on the highway crews and overtime expenditures, with possible winter weather in the latter months of this year yet to come.