YORKTOWN, N.Y. – A traditional Yorktown winter brings approximately 10.8 weather events, Highway Superintendent Dave Paganelli said. This year, Paganelli and his crew have salted and plowed the almost 200 miles of town-owned roads 19 times.
“I wouldn’t say it’s bad; I would say it’s extremely active,” Paganelli said of the winter season.
He cited the winters of 2014 and 2015 as examples of bad winters. They consecutively served up above-normal amounts of snow.
By contrast, many of this year’s events were not significant snowfalls, Paganelli said. Some were minor snowfalls and ice events. Still, if left ignored, even an inch of snow can create an “extremely dangerous situation for driving,” he said.
While storms such as Winter Storm Niko, which warranted a press conference to prepare residents for her 12 inches of snow, demand the attention of the highway department, they also demand a lot of salt. Paganelli asked the town board at the Feb. 14 work session for permission to purchase more.
Each storm calls for about 200 tons of salt, he said, and the department can store up to 8,500 tons in its facilities. After so many events, however, they’ve used up about 40 percent of the supply.
“What’s important for people to understand is that when it snows an inch overnight, when you wake up and there’s snow in your driveway and there’s no snow in the road, it means we’ve been out,” Paganelli said.
The town board authorized the comptroller to transfer $165,000 to the highway fund balance for the purchase of salt. They also discussed Paganelli’s intentions to revive his department’s discontinued brine operation.
Brine is a combination of salt and water used to pretreat the roads. The layer of 23 percent salt and 77 percent water sits on top of the pavement and is intended to prevent the snow from bonding, giving plows some extra time. Paganelli said brine is ineffective when it rains or sleets, because it just gets washed away; however, the town does have equipment to make its own brine, and he added that it might be worth the investment to use it when brine would be effective.
“If there are two or three storms out of 10 that it would be effective and it gives us extra time to get out on the road and prevent an accident, then it’s well worth trying to resuscitate,” Paganelli said.
Paganelli plans to do a test run with some borrowed brine in the future, prior to committing to the recovery of a full-time brine operation.