Snow keeps area road crews busy

Nuisance snowstorms and lower temperatures have kept area municipalities busy trying to maintain clear roadways this winter, but it hasn’t resulted in a lot of overtime.

“For us, it was pretty much just an average winter” with no big storms, Al Hykes, Altoona Department of Public Works highway superintendent, said. “We didn’t have to work a great deal of overtime this year.”

Despite the lack of “big” snowstorms that drop feet of snow at a single time, road crews have dealt with more frequent, smaller snowfalls that still require salting and plowing.

The public works department recently restocked its salt supply with an additional 400 tons of material, Hykes said.

During an average storm, crews typically use about 200 tons of salt to cover area roads, Hykes said. Winter road crews work in two shifts and will work overtime during a snowstorm or on the weekends, he said.

During a snow event crews stay on an additional four hours to work 12-hour shifts, he said.

Hykes said the colder weather has some of the employees “burned out” and ready for spring.

But the department is more than prepared to handle any additional winter weather, Hykes said.

Hollidaysburg Borough Manager Mark Schroyer said his borough is on target and under-budget for dealing with the snow.

“We’re not anticipating any shortfalls,” Schroyer said.

Schroyer said the borough tries to remain consistent with salt and other material purchased and recently received a 200-ton shipment of salt.

But plowing snow from area roadways has fallen secondary to emergency maintenance, Schroyer said.

“The main issue for us this winter has been water line repairs,” he said.

Over the past six weeks, borough workers have responded to about 12 water line breaks, Schroyer said.

The borough has been “aggressive” with water line maintenance, he said, but officials have had to use overtime when they called in employees to fix broken water lines in the evening hours.

The snow has had less of a damaging impact when compared to the water line problems, he said.

Ebensburg Borough Manager Dan Penatzer said last year’s mild weather allowed the borough to save some of its resources including its salt supply.

Borough employees have been called in on overtime to help salt and plow area roads, but the extra workload was planned for, he said.

“We’re not going to be over budget,” Penatzer said during the borough council meeting last week.

David Dodson, Ebensburg Borough public works director, said the area has seen almost constant snowfall this winter.

Even minor snowstorms amounting to only a quarter inch or inch of snow on area roadways demand immediate attention from the borough, Dodson said.

“You still have to do something about it,” Dodson said.