Plowing resources must be used wisely

The recent cold snap and snow just magnifies how inefficient the plowing process is here in Western New York. Before you jump to conclusions, I’m not criticizing the plow drivers, only the process they are part of. There are huge opportunities for improvement here and, like other critical services such as police and fire, it’s a challenge to look at this objectively, but it should be done.

Anyone who has driven this winter has surely witnessed some of the obvious inefficiencies: overplowing by teams of plows, just minutes apart, days after the snow has stopped; blades lowered onto dry pavement; and excessive use of salt, especially when the forecast renders it useless. If you think it’s not true, just take a ride down the Thruway and you’re sure to see scores of trucks, just a few miles between them, with bare pavement everywhere. Do we really think that’s productive? And yes, I know there’s a need for an emergency shoulder, but does it need to be plowed more than once and all torn up in the process? Why can’t that wing be lifted a little?

My conversations with some drivers seem to have generated a common excuse of “if we don’t go overboard, the lawyers will sue us.” Well, if that’s true, it’s time to question that weak excuse because nothing is truly being accomplished here. It makes no sense that our cities, towns and the state are fiscally broke yet we continue to look the other way when it comes to this waste.

Like most of us, I expect my roads to be maintained reasonably well during the winter season. For the most part, they are. What I don’t want is a process loaded with waste and inefficiencies. Good planning and smarter use of resources translate into better, safer roads. More plows, more salt and more overtime is not the answer.

Eric Glassman