WEATHER Snow raises road-care issues

Main roads and school and hospital zones get salted and cleared first.
WARREN -- Some council members say snow removal has been worse this year than in the past, while operations department officials blame a lack of manpower and quality equipment.
"The streets in my ward have not been maintained to the extent they were last year," said Councilwoman Susan E. Hartman, D-7th, at an operations committee meeting Monday.
She pointed to Christmas Day and Sunday as examples. Councilman Robert Holmes III, D-4th, pointed to Howland and Cortland as communities that plowed streets earlier than Warren on Christmas Day.
Robert Stahl, street superintendent, said primary streets, including Elm, Parkman and Youngstown roads and West Market Street, and school and hospital zones get attention first, followed by secondary roads.
Standard procedure
When snow starts, crews spread salt or slag first. The plow trucks don't go out until snow builds up.
"You can't plow an inch of snow," said Frank Tempesta, operations director.
During periods of heavy, steady snowfall, crews may not make it to the secondary roads because they're trying to keep the main routes passable, Stahl said.
Hartman and Councilwoman Virginia Bufano, D-1st, pointed out that the department has three new plow trucks.
David Mazzochi, maintenance superintendent in the operations department, said the fleet includes many trucks that frequently break down because of their age. The department has 10 of the trucks used for street plowing. To do it efficiently, there should be a minimum of 12, he said, and the department used to have 14.
Three trucks broke down during Sunday's snow-control effort, Stahl said.
Staff levels
Department officials said the situation is further complicated by a lack of manpower. The midnight crew, which works 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, consists of 12 people, including two foremen. The day shift, composed of 10 people, including four foremen, works 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Five mechanics, including a foreman, also work at the department.
Sick days and other types of time off also factor in, officials said. When snow starts to pile up, crews may be called out during off-hours. That involves overtime pay.
"With the equipment and the manpower we've got, get used to it," Mazzochi said.
Hartman suggested contacting street departments in other cities to see how they handle snow removal efficiently.

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