Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Crews burn the midnight oil to keep the plows plowing

Drivers can take comfort when they know WSDOT plows are hitting the road at the first sign of snow. The plow drivers can take comfort as well, because they know they have great mechanics backing them up and making sure their equipment is safe and ready for a long day or night of work.

In Mount Vernon, the Area 2 equipment maintenance crew is down to two techs. Normally there would be three techs to take care of the multitude of trucks and equipment necessary to keep over 324 miles of highway safe (802 lane miles). But one mechanic has been out after an injury, leaving Tim McCartney and Andy McKinney to pull some extra duty to keep the trucks on the road.

Tim, a Tech 4, has been with WSDOT for 23 years. His teammate Andy, is a Tech 3, and has been with WSDOT for five years.

Mechanics Tim McCartney (left) and Andy McKinney work on a hydraulic pump used to position a plow blade.

All week, Area 2 plow crews were humming like a well oiled machine. During our first blast of winter, they had 16 trucks sanding, deicing and plowing 24/7 from Whidbey Island to Marblemount, and everywhere in between.

That meant the equipment maintenance crew was burning the midnight oil too. Even though snow removal equipment is built tough, winter can wreak havoc on not just the trucks, but the pumps, motors and electrical equipment that all have to work together in extreme weather conditions. Along with regular maintenance and adjustments, they had several breakdowns last weekend too. That meant the two of them pulled extra-long shifts to keep the trucks rolling.

“Our crew is committed to their work, especially when the going gets tough like it did last weekend,” said Area 2 Supervisor Clint Terwilliger. “But without the excellence and commitment of my vehicle maintenance guys, the rest of our crews would be grounded. We are lucky to have staff that are willing put the safety of their communities first when the job just has to get done.”

8 comments:

Joshua said...

thanks for all of your hard work, guys!

you are greatly appreciated! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for leaving your warm homes and families to keep us safe. Well done!!!

Sara said...

I don't even have a car, but thanks for keeping the roads clear for my bus! :)

Jon Espenschied said...

Thanks for keeping us safe on the highways! I heard today that there is a state plan to shift plow/salt trucks between state and county/city jurisdictions where they are needed, and I hope I see you up here in Seattle. The Seattle executives said some pretty bizarre things today about how they planned to leave the streets packed with snow and ice, but without pointing fingers, it's clear the state needs to handle the situation.

On the Seattle streets, we just don't have functional plow blades & other equipment to clear the ice off major arterials. In the higher elevations around Crown Hill and Greenwood, *all* major streets are down to one ice-choked lane with 2-3in ice ridges that shove even the heaviest vehicles out of control. Up here in the north end, we'd all be grateful to see a state plow truck take the 85th street exit off I-5 and just keep clearing the roads all the way west. Please help! No one else is doing it!

Brian Keller said...

Right on! You guys rock. I hope you get a reprieve to enjoy some well-deserved R&R with your families for the holidays very soon.

Anonymous said...

As I watched the local news this evening...there was a very short report - that was squeezed in between all the snow reports and predictions for the upcoming holiday week. This report was about the State Employees Union having to sue Governor Gregoire for the cost of living increase that she promised the employees during the recent elections. I can see why this Union is taking these actions.

My neighbor works for the WSDOT...he is a snow plow driver in the winter and does repairs to the highways during the other months. This poor guy has worked many night time hours for many days in a row...comes home to a driveway full of snow, sleeps what he can as his children play outside sledding and other snow play - which he does not have time to enjoy with. I talked with him briefly (as he was headed back to work for the 7th or 8th night in a row) about if he was ready for the Holidays...his response was "...probably have to work the next few nights, looking at the weather reports coming in...".

Not only do these State workers work when times are bad and dangerous...they also give up the time they spend with family, friends and their children too.

Nancy Babyak, PMP said...

Thank you!
Thank you!
Thank you!

Anonymous said...

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