Storm kept road crews working around the clock

Photo Kristin Schultz
Winter Storm Stella furiously blew through the region, dumping nearly 20 inches of snow, reducing visibility and making a mess of the roadways.Photo Kristin Schultz Winter Storm Stella furiously blew through the region, dumping nearly 20 inches of snow, reducing visibility and making a mess of the roadways.

By Kristin Schultz
Gazette Reporter

NISKAYUNA — Not everyone hunkered down and watched movies in their pajamas during the massive March 14 snowstorm.

Instead of staying home, the Niskayuna Highway Department road crew drove into work as the storm — dubbed Stella by The Weather Channel — began dumping what would turn out be just under 20 inches of snow.

Highway personnel hit the road at 6:30 a.m. on the 14th and didn’t clock out until 6 a.m. on the 15th. The 24-hour shift allowed the road crew to keep up with the snow and plowed the way for a clear midweek commute.

“We take pride in what we do,” said Ray Smith, superintendent of the highway department. “My guys stuck with it and their work paid off.”

The town of Niskayuna has nine trucks, each with its own route. Two-person teams run the routes. In a typical snow event, each route takes between two and three hours to clear. Due to reduced visibility during this storm, each route took upward of five hours to clear.

In addition, the highway department has three supervisors, including Smith. Each of them was on the roads as well, addressing issues at intersections and helping drivers who needed assistance.

Smith has worked for Niskayuna for more than three decades. While he’s seen big storms during that time, he said it had been nearly a decade since seeing a storm of Stella’s magnitude.

“It’s just a matter of keeping up with the storm,” he said. “We were working to keep it plowed, but we had slower going than during the other storms we had this winter.”

Smith reported that the crews did take dinner breaks in addition to resting periods of three to four hours for safety.

The strategy of trying to keep up with the storm worked well and on the morning of March 15, the roads were ready for morning commuters.