Snow Removal Goes High Tech

When winter storms hit and snow operations go into effect, MTA Bridges and Tunnels' fleet rolls out to get the job done. But make no mistake; these are not your father's snow plows. Snow removal has definitely gone high-tech.

Among the latest addition to the 97-truck fleet are 30 new trucks equipped with ground temperature sensors that can tell operators which roadway areas need deicing and exactly how much to put down to ensure an even application.

Chief Maintenance Officer Patrick Parisi, whose maintainers are responsible for snow removal, says the new trucks "help plow and deice areas even more efficiently and ultimately provide safer driving conditions for customers."

The new sensor-equipped trucks are replacing vehicles that have reached the end of their useful life. When winter is over, the snow plows are removed and the trucks are used year-round for maintenance work at the agency's seven bridges and two tunnels.

Since the winter season began, Bridges and Tunnels Operations have responded to five snow events, with the biggest being the 10-12 inches of snow dropped on the area on Dec. 19, 2009. During that weekend storm, more than 175 personnel operated snow trucks, payloaders, and snow blowers in an effort to get ahead of the storm.

Parisi said conditions were made more difficult due to wind gusts of up to 40 mph that created whiteout conditions. Some 1,900 tons of deicer was used to battle icing conditions for that storm and a total of 2,700 tons has been used to date.

The material used to melt snow and ice on roadways is sometimes referred to as salt but it is actually an anti-corrosive deicer with an additive that inhibits corrosion of structural steel on the agency's bridges.