Why All of West Hartford's Streets Weren't Plowed Saturday Night

A message from Director of Public Works John Phillips.

The following message regarding why plowing was interrupted was received from Director of Public Works John Phillips at 7:11 p.m. on Saturday. "I just don’t know how else to explain the duration of time it takes to meet the expectations of my valued residents," he said.

Tonight I had to make the hard choice and call off 90 percent of my drivers. Their life safety after being at this for 36 straight hours is more important than the streets we just couldn’t get to today. The guys were on edge, full of stress and I could see the physical fatigue in their eyes. I could not live with myself if something happened to them because I pushed too hard. I’m not in Iraq any longer.

I’m sure several thousand residents think I’m incompetent tonight. It came down to the life safety of my operators and the public that shares the road with them vs. leaving a street unplowed for 8 more hours (We will be back at 100 percent staff at 3 a.m.) I do have four troopers sticking it out for true emergencies and the rapid response to clear the road for such calls.

I feel bad but it’s the right thing to do.

Here is a quick summary of what we do beginning with your street plow operation:

We have 30 plow routes to cover the 215 miles of road. We have 21 professional snow and ice control operators with associated specialized equipment.

Each road mile typically require 4 to 6 pass to clear one time. We can plow our routes several times during a large snow event. We rely on 10 subcontractors.

Local snow plow operating is truly a developed skill set that not everyone in the commercial driver arena posses. Quality subs are hard to come by. Subcontracting out this type of work is a calculated risk compared to having to pay the salaries and benefits of a  year round plow operator workforce just to plow/de-ice snow 17 times a year on average. We have four operations managers to cover 21 square miles.

Snow plow operating is very rigorous work. The physical and metal demand it takes to be a plow truck driver is difficult to explain to anyone who has never experienced it or tried it  for themselves.

A high level of multi-tasking take place in the cabs of those 60,000 lb trucks pushing a 2.5 ton chunk of steel on a imperfect surface with a contantly changing geography (buried in a non-contrasting blanket of fresh white snow).

They are required to operate a truck with levers for plows, de-icing equipment, and transmission gears. They must watch gauges that measure load capacity and engine operations. They must be mindful of traffic, pedestrians and other unforeseeable obstacles.

These professional men and women must do all this while being accountable for their life safety and the life safety others who share the road with them. They do all this in the worst possible weather conditions imaginable while managing their own personal fatigue.

It takes a unique individual to be able to pull all that has to be done together and be successful each time on the road. We just completed 36 hour non-stop work shift during the worst blizzard to hit the town in anyone’s memory. Just saying.

David February 15, 2013 at 05:05 AM
Funny how some people just don't get it. Pre treat roads? Uh there was how much snow that fell? Every town in CT is in the same boat. To tear into the drivers and management is ridiculous. It's called patience. I don't live in WH but feel the management did the right thing. It snowed close to 4-5" an hour over night, no way to keep up with it that night. WH is no better not worse than any other town in CT. We are all still struggling with tight roads today. This was a historic blizzard, something many of us have never dealt with including public works do for you to criticize them is uncalled for. Funny how s little inconvenience stirs up so much criticism.
Jakes February 15, 2013 at 02:18 PM
I won't question last weekend's work, but now we're almost a week from the storm and major roads are still not clear. Main Street does not have 2 full lanes. Cars are still swerving to avoid piles of snow in travel lanes. Local streets don't have enough room for two cars to pass. I haven't seen a piece of DPW equipment in days. What's the deal?
Kat Kelly February 15, 2013 at 03:45 PM
Gee a new title (Snow and ice control operators).
West Hartford tax payer February 17, 2013 at 12:40 AM
So today we had a very lite dusting only in the shaded areas of the property. the roads all clear of snow temp at 35 and what do i see a plow truck putting down salt really 35 degrees.. Way to SUCK up the overtime boys. And for the past storm are street was left from Friday night 9 oclock till Sunday 36 hours unplowed. But when I did get out on a walk I noticed the town parks had been plowed. plow the town parks before town roads . Thank you for such a great job
Dr Bob February 19, 2013 at 12:06 AM
And here some of us thought you'd please every last one of us...tsk tsk...I'd say a pretty good job, shoveled out the driveway and sidewalk with a bit of help from a neighbor with a blower...our street saw the plow truck at mid-afternoon Saturday. We knew since we were told to stay off the roads, it was just as well Linbrook stayed snowed in for a bit. Unless you have one truck for each street, someone will say hey "why not us first." I do feel for those who were inconvenienced, but as long as it wasn't more serious than that, well it's Winter and it's New England.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »