Posts Tagged ‘virginia’

On Snow Plowing

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

I want to give thanks for the efforts of the Free Union and Yancey VDOT depot workers who dealt with the December 17 storm. The workers gave us their all, trying to clear interstate highways, secondary roads, and neighborhood streets.

To me the lesson is that we have too few people and machines available to deal with such a storm. Eighteen years ago there were twenty giant orange dump trucks at the Free Union depot, each with a crew to operate it each shift when needed.  After successive cuts at the state level, this force was reduced to four orange trucks and crews while 80 subdivisions were added to the state highway inventory. Was the savings to the state bottom line worth the danger and loss for the citizens? Does privatization work when the private vehicles are too light to deal with this kind of snow? The same result occurred in March 1993, when successive snows immobilized the area. It was two weeks before people could move in Earlysville Forest and a resident died waiting for an ambulance as four farmers on tractors tried to plow a path.

It is fashionable to think government is the problem today, but our community and our individual citizens need reliable and effective public  safety support, to prevent injury and property damage. Any potential savings must be balanced against the cost of lost wages and lost productivity to our workers and businesses, the cost of lost learning time for our students, and the cost of life and limb as hundreds of vehicular accidents occur. Perhaps this recent weather event will help us focus on these needs. Being prepared is not just a motto, it is a way to survive and thrive when hazards appear.

Citizens can share their views with their delegates and senators in Richmond who have power over the budget for VDOT.  See the right sidebar for contact information.