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DOT Defends Snow Removal Process After Complaints Pile Up

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RALEIGH, N.C. — There is no doubt that snow removal crews learned a lot from the winter storm of 2000. That did not stop WRAL from getting a flood of e-mail complaints regarding the road cleanup efforts after the latest storm.

As soon as the first cars and trucks slid into ditches last week, the complaints started flying. Many people questioned the Department of Transportation's preparation and response to a well-forecast storm.

In Wake County, the snow plow stops with DOT engineer Jerry Linder.

"If you don't learn something from it to start with, you're out here wasting your time," Linder said.

Some of the complaints stated that the DOT should be on the roads before the storm starts and start dropping salt as the snow starts to fall. So why does that not happen?

"If I go out here on I-40 and I put that chemical down and put down the salt, traffic will take it and beat it right off the road, literally just beat it off the road. So, you need a layer of about an inch for that stuff to stay," Linder said.

Some people ask why the blades on snow plows are three and four inches off the ground.

"There's no real down pressure or anything that you can adjust to push it down any harder. So what it's going to do is ride over the top of that ice," Linder said.

Others wonder why the DOT does not plow every single road once and then go back and tackle the main roads.

"We would love to be able to do that if we had the manpower and equipment to push everything to start with. Overall, I feel like our guys have done a fantastic job. You do the best you can with what you get to work with," he said.

As for lessons learned, Linder says the DOT needs to find a better way to get help from private contractors with heavy equipment.

Linder hopes to follow a program in Kentucky where the state helps private contractors buy plows and spreaders for temporary use. However, it will take more taxpayer money to do it.

The state is still trying to tally up the cost of last week's snow storm, but the manpower numbers are in for Wake County.

  • The DOT put 60-truck drivers on local roads.
  • 40 snow removal workers with 20-trucks drove in from Asheville to help out.
  • 22 drivers came from Statesville.
  • 28 private motor graters were contracted for the cleanup on state-maintained roads.
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    Cullen Browder, Reporter
    Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
    Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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