PennDOT crews brace for icy conditions next

    PennDot snowplow (Keith Srakocic/AP Photo)

    PennDot snowplow (Keith Srakocic/AP Photo)

    After the weekend storm blanketed parts of the state with as much as 3 feet of snow, Pennsylvania  authorities must balance competing priorities — keeping state-owned roads clear while extending help to municipalities still digging out.

    “This storm … it’s historic,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards Monday. “A lot of these cities and municipal public works departments are really trying to get on top of it … there are some very small roads, and it’s very hard with cars parked on the side.”

    Municipal governments could get a hand as early as Tuesday from PennDOT teams of dump trucks and loaders.

    “That’s what we have to find out right now,” said Scott Christie, PennDOT’s deputy secretary for highway administration. Before sending help, the agency must make sure it has cleared roads that are the state’s responsibility.

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    “There potentially could be some refreezing tonight,” said Christie, “so we’ll keep all of our crews on shift.”

    Richards and Christie joined Gov. Tom Wolf at a Harrisburg PennDOT office on Monday to thank crews for their work during the weekend snowstorm. The visit was bookended by similar stops in Lancaster and York.

    “I have never a seen a snowstorm like this, and I know you haven’t either,” said Wolf, speaking to PennDOT plow operators, mechanics, and traffic managers. “It was faster than we thought, it started earlier than we thought, and you responded magnificently.”

    Tomika Fenderson, a PennDOT purchasing agent, said she had one question on her mind for the governor: “How much clout does he have?”

    She said she couldn’t go home after her weekend shift because her street in uptown Harrisburg still hadn’t been plowed.

    “I stayed at a hotel last night,” Fenderson said with a laugh. “I need my $53 back.”

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