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Road crews work overtime to clear snow

February 18, 2003|by TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

Area road crews were out in full force Monday in a Herculean attempt to remove the 2 feet - and sometimes more - of snow dumped on the Tri-State area over the weekend.

More than 235 government and contract workers were attempting to clear roads from Jefferson County in West Virginia to Fulton County, Pa. And they were planning to be back on the job today.

County Highway Department Director Ted Wolford said 85 full-time workers were manning 32 county trucks, and 18 private contractors were helping to clear Washington County roads.

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Wolford said crews were still working Monday to get roads "passable." Workers had reported at around 12 a.m. Saturday and worked until about 4 p.m., then returned from 4 to 5 a.m. Sunday and had stayed on the job since them.

"Some of them couldn't get home," Wolford said.

And although they've been taking breaks since the work started, "it's tiring," Wolford said.

Fulton County crews had been working around the clock, according to PennDOT Assistant County Maintenance Manager Ronnie Swope. There were 27 workers running 24 trucks and three graders, he said.

"Some of the guys are starting to show some tiredness," he said. "The roads are open, but they're snow-covered and snow-packed."

Workers likely would apply chemicals to melt the remaining snow on the roadway today, he said.

Roads in Franklin County were "snow-covered, of course," said PennDOT's County Maintenance Manager Dave Rock, although the "main roads are driveable."

Rock said 35 state vehicles, eight private and eight rental vehicles were on the job in Franklin County Monday.

In Berkeley County, crews were working 12-hour shifts to clear the roads, said Dwight Wilkins, acting county supervisor for the W.Va. Department of Highways. He said primary roads had some snow cover and predicted it would take three to four days to completely clear the roads.

In Jefferson County, crews would be working for the rest of the week to clear roads, supervisor Donnie Dillow said.

"You lookin' for a job?" Dillow asked.

Snow accumulations reached nearly 3 feet in parts of Fulton County, Swope said.

"I've been here 24 years," he said, "and this is probably the deepest" snowfall he'd had to clear.

Swope said better equipment - larger trucks with larger blades - made the task a little easier than it was when he started. Back then, he said, "we'd have been three or four days just opening up the roads."

The unusually heavy precipitation so far this season has in many cases used up most of the budgets for snow removal.

Washington County was over budget on snow removal before this storm hit, Wolford said, but the county has a reserve fund for such emergencies. Because the county was in a state of emergency, Wolford said he hoped for additional emergency funding.

Most areas of West Virginia were over budget for snow removal as well, Dillow said, although Jefferson County was "pretty good until this storm hit."

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