April 24, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
54°F
test

Through storm, plow drivers keep going

Ben Sanborn plows roads with Steve Ferguson in Lorain on Wednesday with a system called tandem plowing.  KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

Ben Sanborn plows roads with Steve Ferguson in Lorain on Wednesday with a system called tandem plowing. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

LORAIN — The only way out was through, so Steve Ferguson and fellow city of Lorain snowplow drivers kept on pushing through Wednesday’s storm.

“We’re continuously moving,” said Ferguson, who worked a 3 a.m. to 7 p.m. shift. “We very rarely stop.”

Ferguson was one of about 15 drivers from the Street Department who dealt with heavy snowfall, strong winds and sometimes low visibility. Ferguson said at the height of the storm, he could see only about 100 feet ahead of him because of blowing snow from 15- to 25-mph wind gusts.

Ben Sanborn and Steve Ferguson plow Arrowhead Street off Levitt Road in Lorain

Ben Sanborn and Steve Ferguson plow Arrowhead Street off Levitt Road in Lorain

Ferguson said he also had to deal with tailgating drivers who don’t realize snowplow trucks need more room to maneuver. He said drivers should stay at least 100 feet behind plows.

While residents are happy when their streets are plowed, they are unhappy about their driveways being blocked by snow from the plows. Ferguson, a 35-year-old Lorain resident, said it’s not intentional.

“I work with the same guys who plow my driveway in,” he said. “When we go home, we have to do the same thing as everyone else does — shovel your driveway.”

Ferguson said Street Department employees are tight-knit and drivers take pride in clearing roads.

“Any one of our family members could be on this road and we want to make it safe for everyone out here,” Ferguson said as he plowed East Erie Avenue near the end of his shift.

Ferguson, hired full time in 2011, said the 2013 truck he was driving made plowing easier than in his old truck. The truck, part of equipment paid for through the state gas tax, has gears that make the plow operate more efficiently and a computer to better regulate road salt distribution.

Lorain Street Superintendent Lori R. Garcia goes through a map of routes, in the city of Lorain, in which drivers are responsible for plowing.  Each section of town has a plan for which snow plows will go, how it will be plowed and how many times.

Lorain Street Superintendent Lori R. Garcia goes through a map of routes in the city of Lorain. Each section of town has a plan for which snow plows will go, how it will be plowed and how many times.

Wednesday was the first time Ferguson and colleagues drove routes that were part of a new five-zone coverage plan designed by Street Superintendent Lori Garcia and Public Property Manager Hal Kendrick, who oversee the department.

Garcia, a Lorain employee since 1991, was promoted to superintendent Dec. 2 and has been kept busy by the heavy snowfall.

“Good thing sleep is overrated,” said Garcia, who began work at 3 a.m.

Garcia said the previous plan, which had 12 routes, hadn’t been updated in 20 years and the new plan more efficiently uses resources. The focus remains on plowing main arteries first followed by secondary roads and side streets. While the 6 to 10 inches of snow and strong wind challenged drivers, Garcia said plowing went smoothly.

“This is a great group of guys,” she said. “They’ve really been working hard.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenowchroniclet.com.

  • Tom

    The street I live on wasn’t touched at all yesterday. It was finally plowed this morning at 5:30 am.

  • PLaf

    I think the snow plow drivers are doing an excellent job for the winter we have been having. In all areas, not just Lorain! Great job drivers!