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City gets ready for winter weather

With winter weather starting fairly early this season, the Suffolk Public Works Department Roadway Division is prepared with inventory, equipment and manpower to keep roads clear.

“We are committed to providing the traveling public with the safest driving surface possible during adverse weather conditions,” a city press release stated on Thursday.

The Roadway Division’s inventory currently includes:

  • 26 truck/spreader/plow combos
  • Five brine distributors/dump trucks
  • Four loaders
  • Five backhoes
  • 2,500 tons of salt
  • 3,100 tons of sand

The first priority is to make passable approximately 600 lane-miles of primary roads and additional lane-miles of priority streets that access hospitals, fire stations and police stations, the press release stated.

Most neighborhood streets are not cleared because parked vehicles and other safety considerations make snow removal from these streets impractical. Problematic main roadways into and out of some neighborhoods will be treated and/or plowed as supervisors investigate if the equipment can safely work in such areas. Residents can view an interactive map of the priority routes on the city’s website.

City crews assess each winter weather event for the best possible treatment plan. Depending upon conditions, roadways may be pre-treated in the hours before the onset of the winter event. This pretreatment may be a wet salt solution (brine) or a dry mixture of sand and salt (abrasive). Pretreatment can be used to help reduce icy conditions but may not be the only required treatment.

When it becomes necessary to operate snow plows, residents can assist in the efficiency of snow removal by doing the following:

  • Avoid travel unless absolutely necessary
  • Leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles
  • Stay back and avoid passing snow plows; snow or abrasives can come from the plow while operating
  • Avoid parking on streets when snow or ice is predicted
  • Shovel sidewalks as soon as possible after storm; however, avoid shoveling snow from driveways or sidewalks into the roadway
  • Clear snow around fire hydrants; firefighters will be able to respond more quickly in the event of an emergency

If travel is absolutely necessary during severe conditions:

  • Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter and is in safe driving condition. Keep an emergency kit in your car. Include items such as jumper cables, blankets, first aid kit, water, non-perishable food, cat litter or sand, shovel, flash light and batteries, ice scraper and cell phone charger.
  • Let someone know where you are going and what route you’re taking.
  • Remove all snow from your vehicle before driving.
  • Drive with caution. Reduce your speed and increase following distances.
  • Don’t crowd snow plows or emergency vehicles. Give emergency crews plenty of room to work.