By Andrew Wroblewski
Though unseasonably warm weather may make it seem like winter’s never coming, town officials are preparing for the worst. The Town of Huntington has spent more than $2.42 million on upgrades and additions to its highway department over the last two years in an effort to prepare for the winter season.
The most significant purchase came in the form of 10 new plow-equipped dump trucks, which were bought over the last two years for a total of $2 million, said Huntington Highway Superintendent Peter Gunther.
The new trucks are expected to last 25-30 years and have five-year, bumper-to-bumper warranties. They join the department’s fleet of 70 total dump trucks.
Gunther said the department has also refurbished 10 of its existing dump trucks, which suffered from damage caused by salt exposure. The Huntington Town Board allocated $260,000 for that purchase, but Gunther said it came in under budget at $242,000. The refurbished trucks are expected to last 12-15 years, he added.
Gunther said the department has also purchased four new plow-equipped pickup trucks with $140,000 in grant money.
A total of 200 GPS systems were also purchased to be installed in the vehicles of private snow-plowing contractors which are hired by the town. The GPS systems will cost $6,000 over the next three months, Gunther said, and are planned to aid highway department workers in tracking the locations of private contractors so that they can deploy them where needed.
Gunther added that the town’s preexisting vehicles were already equipped with GPS systems, and $1,200 was spent to add it to the newly-purchased trucks.
Making use of those systems will be the department’s 43 foreman, who have been equipped with tablet computers to allow them to keep up with real-time information while in the field so they can deploy equipment accordingly.
Gunter added that more than $35,000 was spent on upgrades to the department’s operations center, which is located at its headquarters at 30 Rofay Drive in Huntington.
“Whether it is snow or a nasty storm of any magnitude, we are able to take care of whatever the problem is. We are a more efficient and better highway department,” Gunther said.
Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone and Councilwoman Tracey Edwards joined Gunter at a press conference Friday where the new and refurbished dump trucks were revealed.
“We’re hoping there won’t be snow this year, but if there is, we can rest easy knowing that the Highway Department is prepared,” Petrone said. “This is a great opportunity to show what the Town of Huntington can do when there is great cooperation, namely, first and foremost, working together with a most effective highway superintendent.”
Edwards pointed out that residents can report concerns to the department through the town’s “Huntington @ Your Service” smartphone app, through the highway department’s website (huntingtonny.gov/Highway) and through its telephone hotline.
Gunther reminded residents that they should remove their cars and basketball hoops from the streets in advance of a storm in order to make plowing quicker and more efficient.