Midstate cities work to dig out from historic snowfall

Written by Emily Previti/Keystone Crossroads | Jan 26, 2016 5:11 AM

Photo by Ben Allen/witf

Photo by Ben Allen/WITF

(Lancaster) -- Cities across the midstate are working rid of their streets of snow up to a record-setting three feet in some parts of Pennsylvania.

The historic snowfall's left extra equipment and manpower at a premium in some of the commonwealth's most densely populated areas.

Main roads were clear and weekend travel bans lifted by Monday morning in Lancaster, Harrisburg, Chambersburg, Carlisle and other communities.

But government centers stayed closed.

Street parking remained restricted and public lots and garages were free or discounted so crews could keep clearing secondary streets.

Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray says it's been a challenge.

"Take a rural area, you can run a truck 35-40 mph down the road and throw snow 20, 30, 40 feet off to the side and you've made a pass," he says. "You can move pretty quickly with it. In a municipality like Lancaster, or York, or Harrisburg, ... you have to be careful when you plow."

Gray says more than 30 front-end loaders and plows are deployed to clean up the city, between public works and primary contractors alone.

Still more support's coming from additional contractors hired from as far as New England, he says.

"It's one of the prices we pay for living in a densely-populated, walkable community, definitely has its positive points but unfortunately 30 inches of snow doesn't bring out the best," he says.

Gray says they're paying an extra $10 to $15-an-hour for the out-of-town help.

But, he says, that beats waiting.

York Mayor Kim Bracey says the city's primary contractors were obligated to multiple municipalities, so the city commissioned more manpower, too.

Theirs didn't arrive until Monday afternoon.

Some 36 municipalities meanwhile called on the Pennsylvania Emergency management Agency.

PEMA says it's satisfied more than 60 percent of the requests for help. 

PennDOT's expected to start helping some municipalities today.

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