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Plows + patience are equation for Wake neighborhoods after the snow

Posted January 19, 2018 6:00 p.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 11:17 a.m. EDT

— As Wake County continues to grow, more people and more homes mean more roads to be plowed after a significant snowstorm like the one that arrived Wednesday, trapping many of those residents indoors.

Dave Pfiffer has lived in Apex since 1999, so he knows what to expect after it snows.

"When it's as bad as this and you can't really stop, you sort of have to roll through the stop sign. If you stop, you are going to have a heck of a time getting out of here," he said.

Wake County has a total of 5,830 lane miles of road to clear after a snowstorm. Plows start with the highways and major routes. Secondary roads come, well, second, which means some neighborhoods wait for days and warming weather to see truly clear streets.

"All of our drivers get assigned certain zones, so you don't have to live closer to the downtown area," said Steve Abbott, assistant director of communications for NCDOT. "Probably today we have about 135 trucks out plowing or salting."

After each winter, the North Carolina Department of Transportation re-evaluates those priorities and the traditional plan of attack. For now, they say there is not a rush to buy more trucks or hire new drivers.

"We may have a winter next year with no snow, and we've paid a lot of taxpayer money to hire staff and trucks that will sit," Abbott said.

Pfiffer does understand and he's willing to wait while he watches new neighbors move in.

"There are five or six new developments going in, so it's just going to be more and more roads to plow and the neighborhoods are the last ones to get hit," he said.

For many, Friday was the first day they felt safe driving again.

"I did not want to get on the road because it looked really bad in my neighborhood, but this morning it looked good," said Zita Roberts, who had been staying home since Wednesday.

"Coming back the day that it snowed was kind of bad and the next day most of the roads were pretty clear. As far as going out on the roads now, I feel completely comfortable. I did not change any of how I drove today," said driver Megan Oakes.

With a little help from Mother Nature, Abbott said he hopes all the roads will be clear by Saturday afternoon.