Over one hundred new plow trucks and other winter equipment were added to Connecticut’s winter maintenance fleet in preparation for the upcoming season, according to a statement by Gov. Dan Malloy and Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker, the enhancements will improve efficiency and reduce the cost of major winter weather events.
“We are infusing one-hundred and fourteen new plow trucks into our fleet,” Connecticut Department of Transportation spokesperson Kevin Nursick said. “What we will be doing is removing roughly 114 existing trucks from service and replacing them with the new ones. The 114 that we will be taking off of the road have been on the road for 16 years, so they are well past their shelf life so to speak.”
The DOT has received more than its moneys worth out of the retired trucks, Nursick said. Of the 114 retired plow trucks, some will be auctioned off or sent to surplus while others will be kept and broken down for parts to be used for current plow vehicles in the fleet.
“We are not really increasing the number of vehicles in the fleet but we are increasing the reliability of the fleet. That has an impact on efficiency,” Nursick said.
With the addition of these new trucks less time will be spent on breakdowns and repairs, resulting in a more cost effective and time efficient snow clearing process.
The 114 new trucks were purchased for roughly $17 million and include both single plow trucks and winged plow trucks. About 40 trucks out of the 634 in the fleet are double winged plow trucks meaning that they are built with a plow in the front and plows on both sides.
Along with the replacement of one hundred and fourteen new plow trucks, the DOT is also replacing all mild steel snow blades with long wearing carbide steel snow blades.
“The snow blade is the portion of the snow plow that scrapes the asphalt. The old snow blades would have to be replaced every couple of storms because they would wear out,” Nursick said. “The new ones are long wearing carbide steel. They are more expensive going in, but you can probably go an entire season with these. This means less downtime for repairs and that’s critical for us.”
Despite all these upgrades and enhancements, Nursick said that the individual won’t see a large difference in winter plowing operations. The plow trucks will still do the job that they’ve always done.
“The difference is when you are talking about an entire statewide road network that we are responsible for,” Nursick said. “With the increase in reliability, the plow trucks that were once broken down on the side of the road, are now there plowing your road. This helps built a resiliency into the fleet. It may come as just routine to most folks, but it's serious business.”
The University of Connecticut uses its own equipment alongside rented equipment when it comes to clearing snow. However, the State is responsible for plowing route 195, and portions of Horsebarn Hill Road and North Eagleville according to the associate vice president for facilities operation, Mike Jednak.
Whether any of the brand new snowplows will be making its way down 195 this winter is unknown, but Jednack said there are some changes in UConn’s overall plowing plan.
“What we’ve done in the summer and into the fall was make sure all of the individual plans are coordinated as one larger plan,” Jednak said.
Jednak also said that students will be a lot more informed about the operations underway even before snow begins to fall. Information such as when students need to move their cars, and where they are to be moved will all be better communicated according to Jednak.
The annual snow budget is based on a ten-year storm average. Each year the winter maintenance budget is generally $30 million, with the exception of last winter, which cost $50 million, the most expensive winter weather season ever seen in the history of the CTDOT Nursick said.
Although last winter blew past the average in terms of cost, Mother Nature, as Nursick said, always evens things out. In 2012 only $15.5 million was spent on winter maintenance.
“When we budget for snow, we know very clearly ahead of time that what we are doing is giving it the best educated guess that we have, and we have mechanisms to adjust upwards or downwards and that’s just the way it works in this business and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Nursick said.
Other additions to the winter maintenance fleet are three loader mounted industrial snow blowers. The DOT already owns twelve of these machines, which are used to blow excess snow from the sides of bridges and other major roadways into the backs of dump trucks.
Brenna Kelly is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.