“They’re ready to go on a moments notice, they’re ready for winter,” Rejean Lafleche said.
Lafleche works at Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans), overseeing the District 5 garage in Colchester as general manager.
VTrans employs more than 500 truck drivers in Vermont. Across Lake Champlain, Michael Flick is equally as confident about his team in Clinton County, New York.
He’s a public information officer for New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT).
“Typically we think of snow and ice season when we see those first snowflakes falling in the fall. But we are thinking about snow and ice season during the summer months,” Flick said.
Northern New York has 1.5 million miles of road that needs to be cleared when the snow falls.
“We have forty five full time employees, and during snow and ice season it goes up by approximately ten. We use about 16,000 tons of salt over an average winter, and we travel a couple hundred thousand miles,” Flick said.
In Vermont, during a statewide snow event VTrans is responsible for just over 6,500 miles of roads.
“At the end of our winter season (April or May), we make sure all our salt sheds are back at full capacity,” Lafleche said.
“Our five year average is about 108,000 tons of salt. However the last two years, we have used approximately 132,000 tons of salt,” Wayne Gammell said.
Gammell is Deputy Director of Maintenance and Operation for VTrans.
Last winter was a mild season that didn’t see a lot of snow. VTrans salt usage for last year was only half of its five year average, which is 108,000 tons.
“Last year was an easier winter. We spent $21.5 million on winter maintenance. The two previous years was around the $30-31 million,” Gammell said.
“Typical snow storm we will come in at 3am, and we won’t leave until 3:30pm. Some times we work until 7pm,” said Robert Whitcomb, a VTrans plow truck driver.
Whitcomb tells us his route can take up to four hours to complete. During a winter storm, he may return to the start of his route with up to four inches of fresh snow on the road.
“Plan accordingly. What takes you thirty minutes to get to work normally, could take you an hour, could take you an hour and a half depending on road conditions,” Whitcomb said.
Whether you’re on Route 11 from Champlain to Malone, I-87 from Plattsburgh to Elizabethtown or you’re weaving your way from Burlington to Saint Johnsbury or Littleton, let these trucks do their work.
“Give them some room, it’s safer behind the truck than ahead,” Lafleche said.
In the Granite State, road crews are responsible for 9,000 miles of state roads. That amounts to clearing four billion cubic feet of snow each year.
New Hampshire budgets roughly $42 – $45 million for winter clean up and lays out nearly 170,000 tons of salt on their roadways.