Snow plow drivers stay busy during a snowy February

Seymour snow plow drivers had a busy February working to keep the roads cleared. – Submitted photos

By Sara Tischauser

February was a month full of snow and snow plow drivers worked hard to try and keep the roads clear and safe for everyone.
Mike Rohloff, Seymour Department of Public Works street foreman, has been plowing snow for 19 years and he said this winter season has been about the same as other years when it came to how much snow the crew has had to plow.
He said that this winter the beginning of the season had less snow and then February came with the cold and the snow. Rohloff said the snow plow crew in Seymour worked diligently to keep the roads cleared and safe for everyone.
“There’s six individuals that go out and we each have our own routes to do,” Rohloff said. “When we are all done [plowing the roads] we go do [city] parking lots.”
He said from start to finish with each snow storm it takes each of the six drivers about five hours to complete their snow plowing. After the drivers are done plowing the roads, they go out and salt the roads. The day after plowing, Rohloff said they haul away snow from businesses.
The time the drivers go out to start plowing may vary depending on the snowstorm.
“You don’t want to start too soon, at least the City of Seymour doesn’t want to start too soon and then have to plow again,” Rohloff said. “So first you have to determine as close as you can get with the weatherman when the snow is going to be just about over with and then we start to plow.”
Unfortunately sometimes the predicted weather isn’t what happens, but Rohloff said they do the best they can with determining the best time to start plowing. He said many times they start plowing at 2 a.m. so that they are off the roads by 6:30 a.m. when there is more traffic. He said for safety reasons they like to be done plowing before there are more people out on the roads.
On his own route, Rohloff said he tries to plow his roads that are right off of State Highway 55 first because those roads tend to have more traffic. So for safety reasons he said it is best to get those roads done first and then he moves to the residential areas where there is less traffic.
Safety is always a number one concern of the snow plow drivers. Rohloff said for safety reasons all vehicles should stay at least 200 feet behind the snow plow. He said it can be very hard for the snow plow driver to see vehicles behind the plow.
“We can’t always see them when we are backing up,” Rohloff said. “We do back up quite a bit when we are cleaning corners or clean up something that comes off end of plow we do back up. It’s 2 in the morning and you have different lights and glares and you can’t see sometimes. If they would just stay back and assume we don’t see them.”
While plowing in town, Rohloff said it is best to not pass the snow plow. He said usually they will be turning off on the next street so if vehicle drivers can just wait for the snow plow to turn off instead of passing them it works best. He also said at least in Seymour other drivers can usually just turn and go around the block if they see an approaching snow plow. He said this allows the snow plow driver to continue plowing without having to try and move over or pick up the blade.
Another safety issue Rohloff said is that people should not push snow across the road.
“You are not supposed to push snow straight across road,” Rohloff said. “Snow can end up in neighbor’s yard when plow comes through or leave pile in the road that becomes frozen and wing of snow plow will hit. You are not supposed to push anything out into the road.”
Rohloff said they have also had some issues with snow being shoveled or snow blowed into the road.
“If they are going to snow blow or shovel they should if at all possible throw it back onto their own yard,” Rohloff said. “A lot of times they throw it into the street or snow blow into the street and we are going to start cracking down on that. That will have more attention paid to that issue.”
When snow is put back into the street it can cause issues for others.
“A lot of people blowing [snow] into street or down street and when we come along their neighbor gets it again,” Rohloff said about the added snow in the streets.
Rohloff said they try to plow as close to the curb as possible to keep the roadway as wide as possible.
“Right from the start we try to bump the curb all the time,” Rohloff said.
He said they do try to go around people’s mailboxes but then people need to shovel out by their mailboxes where the plow didn’t go.
“In February we got all that snow, we could only go so fast with all the mailboxes and the snow goes up and comes back down and that’s why the streets start narrowing like they are now,” Rohloff said. “Roads start to narrow because we can’t get up and over.”
Rohloff admitted sometimes they do have issues with mailboxes. He said sometimes the snow pushes up against the mailbox and knocks it over. If this happens and the snow plow driver notices Rohloff said they will go back to the resident’s house and notify them and try to help the person find a way to fix their mailbox for the rest of the winter.
Getting the roads cleared Rohloff said is what they are trying to do after each snow storm
“We are not out there to try and make you mad,” Rohloff said. “We are trying to get the roads clean and that is our job to do. If we do put snow in your driveway, I’m sorry. That is probably one of worst things of the job.”
In his 19 years of snow plow driving he said the latest he has had to plow snow was last year with Snowstorm Evelyn. He said hopefully they will not have another April snowstorm this year.
Rohloff said he and the rest of the crew try to do their best when it comes to snow plow driving to make the roads as safe as they can be.
“When we plow we are out there to try and clean the roads and make them look nice and try to keep them as wide as possible,” Rohloff said. “Is everything going to be done exactly perfect I say not, but we are going to try our best.”