As the latest winter storm rolls in, city of Jamestown workers will be working to be sure the roads remain safe for travel.
The city works in three eight-hour shifts, to keep the streets as clear as possible. According to Jeff Lehman, director of public works, half of the department's workers are in between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. From 2 p.m. until 10 p.m., a skeleton crew - consisting of a foreman who answers phones and two salt trucks - works. Then, the other half of the department's workers clear the roads from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m.
"What happens is, if we get a snowstorm at night, we bring guys in four hours early, or (workers stay) four hours late on the other end," Lehman said. "We can bring a full crew in at any time, but if we bring them in, that is overtime. Basically, the weather dictates. When it gets to the point where it looks like we need to start plowing, that's when we start bringing on the additional crew."
New York State Troopers and the Lakewood Volunteer Fire Department responded to a roll-over accident on Route 394 in Ashville on Wednesday afternoon.
P-J photo by Eric Tichy
With a winter storm warning in effect until 10 a.m. today, Lehman anticipated bringing the plows out earlier than 10 p.m. Wednesday evening. And, bringing crews out early means overtime for those employees. Although the department budgets for snowstorms each year, bringing in extra crews can become costly.
According to Lehman, the street plowing process is a two-day affair with the city's alternate parking, because plows can only reach one side of the road at a time.
"We do get to the other side of the street where we can, but you can't get the whole side that they're parking on," Lehman said. "So, when the changeover occurs, all of a sudden that side of the street is a mess again, so we have to send the guys out for one more round, typically, to clean up the other side of the alternate parking."
The biggest thing people can do to ensure their street is cleared properly, Lehman said, is to be sure to move vehicles to the opposite side of the street in a timely manner.
Additionally, people are able to call the city any time at 483-7558 to report problem streets. However, Lehman asks that people practice patience when waiting for a road to be cleared.
"We've got 150 miles of streets to be plowed, and they're out there," Lehman said. "We have 12 plow routes. It takes a full eight-hour shift or more to get through a route once. The biggest thing is, is people moving their cars. That helps us the most."
Even with city and county crews working around the clock to be sure streets are safe for travel, winter weather occasionally comes with travel advisories.
Cattaraugus County Sheriff Timothy Whitcomb issued an advisory against unnecessary travel within the county until 6 a.m. today. Whitcomb advised that snow and ice on the roads had created dangerous conditions, with multiple accidents within Cattaraugus County.