Preparation underway to cope with predicted snowstorm

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Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison talks to city DPW workers in advance of Wednesday's anticipated storm,

DUTCHESS COUNTY – As forecasts are calling for a storm to dump upwards of two feet of snow across the Hudson Valley beginning Wednesday evening, highway departments are prepping equipment to keep the roads clear.

In the Town of Poughkeepsie, Highway Superintendent Marc Pfeifer and his men were putting the final touches on their fleet of snowplows on Tuesday.  “We plow 148 miles of roads in the town,” said Pfeifer.  His department operates a fleet of 20 large plow trucks and 8 pickup trucks equipped with plows.  The town also uses four outside contractors with pickup trucks and plows to assist in making roads passable.  “We could use a few more vendors to ease the burden, but the Town of Poughkeepsie Water Department is assisting us so that is a major plus,” said the highway superintendent.

Pfeifer has 30 years of experience in the town highway department, including the last 16 years as superintendent.  He credited the town board and Supervisor Jay Baisey with getting new equipment for the department.  “We have four new heavy trucks with state-of-the-art equipment, including liquid calcium dispensers that will make us much more efficient in pre-treating the roads and removing the snow.”

Town of Poughkeepsie snowplows are ready to hit the roads

The new trucks are outfitted in a way that eliminates a second person, known as a “wingman” in the trucks. According to Pfeifer, pre-treating roads with liquid calcium cuts down the town’s use of road salt by approximately one-third per storm.  The trucks pre-treat the road surfaces in advance of the storm to delay the accumulation of precipitation on the roadways.  When the trucks go out during the storm, they are using a mixture consisting of 75 percent salt and 25 percent sand, the latter for traction purposes.

Interior of Town of Poughkeepsie plow truck.

In the City of Poughkeepsie, city-owned parking lots will be open free of charge on Wednesday and Thursday.

Fire hydrants should also remain clear and accessible in case of emergency.

Hyde Park Highway Superintendent Howie Fisher, himself a longtime veteran of snow removal for the town, said his crews are ready as well.  “We are expecting over a foot of snow starting tomorrow late afternoon. Our trucks have been gone over, plows checked, and trucks will be loaded. We will be out for the duration of the storm which should end Thursday afternoon.”

In the southern area of the Hudson Valley, Rockland County Highway Superintendent Vezzetti said the county began pre-treating the roads with anti-icing brine. “The key to keeping our roads clear is having as many cars off of them as possible during the storm,” said County Executive Ed Day.