Plowing the Roads

By: Kelly Creswell Email
By: Kelly Creswell Email

The snow started just in time for the morning commute, and it came down quickly. The snow cause several accidents up and down Valley roadways.

It also made for a busy day for tow truck and plow drivers. When the city of Harrisonburg is responsible for clearing more than 300 lane miles of roads, it may take a while for drivers to get everywhere.

When the snow began Thursday morning, the city needed traffic to help spread the salt plows put on the road. After a while, the traffic became a problem of its own.

"Once you get a certain accumulation, then we're talking about a several inches to three inches, you need to start plowing that excess off the roadway and then you reapply the chemicals and that way you burn the snow and ice off the roadway," says Ken Knight, the Harrisonburg Street Superintendent.

Knight says drivers really can't make any significant headway until the storm has passed, but there is a strategy to clearing the snow that involves teamwork.

"We try to run a series of plows in tandem, either two minimum to three and sometimes four, and that helps us get an entire lane open without having to make so many passes by one or two vehicles," says Knight.

That tag-teaming gets snow cleared all the way to the side of the road, but when there's too much traffic on the roads, Knight says it's difficult for plow drivers to do their jobs.

"When you got over 300 miles of roadway that you have to maintain and try to get cleared, you know, you can't be at every place at one time," says Knight.

Harrisonburg trucks will keep on plowing until roads are clear. Then it's off to clean up the equipment and replenishing the salt supply to prepare for another snow storm that might be coming in the next few days.

However, there are some things you can do to help the city out. First, if you want to shovel your driveway, don't put it in the road. Put the snow in your yard. Otherwise, when the plow comes down your street, it's just going to put it back in your driveway. Second, make sure you clean off your car completely. Don't leave snow on top of your car because then it just blows more snow on the road and can leave slippery spots.


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