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City crews stay busy clearing main roads

February 19, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

Work crews spent Tuesday clearing tons of snow from Potomac Street between Franklin and Washington streets as the city continued to recuperate from the weekend's winter storm.

Don Fox, an employee of the Public Works Department, was operating a backhoe at a city-owned lot where dump trucks hauling 10 to 20 tons of snow each were bringing their loads.

"I just keep pushing the piles ... keep pushing it up till you can't push no more," Fox said.

His shift was nearly over at about 3 p.m., and he was planning on "a hot shower and supper, and laying on the couch."

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Three major roads in Hagerstown - Potomac, Franklin and Washington streets - will be the major focus of continued snow removal efforts, Hagerstown Public Works Manager Eric Deike said.

Getting a limited length of those streets ready for street parking could take at least three more days, he said.

Deike said the city was trying to remove enough snow so people can park on Potomac between Franklin and Washington streets, as well as about four blocks on both Franklin and Washington.

"It won't be every shovelful ... We're going to move the majority," he said.

The snow might remain on many of the city's side streets and alleys until it melts, Deike said.

By midday Tuesday, the crews were ready for a break.

"They've been pretty much at this since Friday night. ... We've got guys that are just flat worn out," Deike said.

The crews were going to rest Tuesday night and resume work today.

Many downtown alleys remained unplowed Tuesday, and city streets were slick with snow that remained even after crews labored Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

Angela Shoop, 26, who lives on Winter Street, was trying to chip out her station wagon and had made three separate piles of snow.

The snow had begun to melt and it was getting heavy, she said.

"And there's nowhere to put it. They don't want you to put it in the street, and it's piled up 4 feet on either side. It's crazy," Shoop said.

Deike said the city streets were in worse condition than county roads because there is less space to put the snow, different equipment is used and more cars are on the roads.

Of the 54 employees in the Public Works Department, between 35 and 40 were involved in some form of snow removal, using "everything from pickups to plows," as well as snow blowers, shovels and backhoes, Deike said.

The city was using three dump trucks Tuesday to move the snow from Potomac Street, Deike said. The trucks were hauling the snow to city property at Potomac Street and Memorial Boulevard.

The city has more trucks, but most were fitted with salt-spreading equipment, which most likely will be necessary to help de-ice roads if there is more snow or when melting snow re-freezes. Deike said he expected to have at least 10 more trucks from a contract company tonight.

Many cars remained where they were parked before the storm hit early Sunday.

Hagerstown Police Sgt. Mark Renner said police officers were easing up on parking regulations because of the snow.

"We're going to use common sense on that. ... We realize it's a tough time," he said.

Deike said he hopes residents will continue to help out by clearing fire hydrants and clearing at least a walking path on sidewalks.

One concern now is flooding; workers were clearing snow from storm drains, which if iced over could clog and not allow snow melt to run off properly.

Deike said the city's snow removal budget this year was $309,000.

"Before this weekend, we were pretty much down to our last dollar," he said. With most of the money gone, he said he hoped to get federal and state emergency aid.

But there should be enough salt and sand for continuing efforts, Deike said. The city has 200 tons of salt on back order, he said.

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