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Snow removal is tough sledding in the city of Lebanon

Written by John Latimer/Lebanon Daily News | Jan 26, 2016 10:25 AM
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People dig out on Church Street in Lebanon as people continued to dig out from snowstorm Jonas on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016. The snowstorm slammed Pennsylvania Friday, Jan. 22 and Saturday, Jan. 23 dropping close to 29 in. of snow on Lebanon County.(Photo: Jeremy Long, Lebanon Daily News)

Mayor says limited resources slowed the clean up effort but progress was made on Monday

(Lebanon) -- A lack of equipment continued to delay efforts on Monday to clear Lebanon's roads of the weekend's record-breaking snowfall, but by the end of the day, Mayor Sherry Capello was optimistic that business would be back to normal soon.

While major routes were passable early in the day, many side roads were limited to one-lane and numerous alleys had not been touched at all. Conditions remained bad enough that Lebanon City Council rescheduled its meeting to next Monday night.

Continuing her refrain from Sunday, a tired and frustrated Mayor Sherry Capello said that the city's work crews were doing the best they could. Much of the equipment that had been sub-contracted prior to the snowfall, including loaders and tri-axle dump trucks to haul the snow, did not materialize, she said.

"We did a lot of planning. We had a lot of resources lined up before we started, and what happened was a lot of those resources didn't come through,"  the mayor said.  "We planned. We did what we had to do ahead of time. But they either couldn't get here or had other clients."

The crews that were working on Monday continued to clear the major roads of snow, as the city remained in a snow emergency.

Signs of progress were seen in the morning when parking was again allowed on Cumberland Street.

"For a record-setting snowstorm, I think we are doing pretty well," Capello said.

But without the necessary equipment, the removal of snow from the main streets was slower and not as steady as the mayor had planned.

Capello said other cities were offering as much as $20 more per hour to lure the equipment away from Lebanon, which had agreed to pay $50 to $70 per hour to contractors, depending on the type of equipment supplied.

"We were supposed to have between 15 to 17 tri-axles lined up at 7 a.m. (Sunday)," she said. "If I would have had all of those, my snow blower wouldn't have had to sit in between the hauling. I'd be done with this hauling by now."

One contractor that did come through for the city, Capello said, was Collins Trucking from North Lebanon Township. After helping plow the roads during the storm, the drivers from the family-owned company were busy Monday hauling trailer load after trailer load of snow to the city's Green Waste Center on North Eighth Street, where a mountain of snow grew.

"They have been non-stop since Friday," Capello said. "Seriously, I don't know what we would have done without them."

A secretary at the company, who only identified herself as Marilyn, said four employees including owner Donny Collin, sons Brad and Donald Jr., and Ron Miller have been working hard since Friday, taking turns grabbing a few hours sleep before heading back to the road.

At midday, Capello huddled with Public Works Director Robin Getz and highway garage superintendent Donny Peffley  to determine if the city would be better served by using its limited resources to clear the side roads, instead of removing the remaining snow from the major routes.

On several side streets which had been cleared, some residents complicated matters when shoveling their vehicles out by tossing it into the streets, the exasperated mayor said.

"What has made it even more worse and has had a significant impact on us, unfortunately, are the residents who took the snow from their sidewalks and cars and piled it in the center of the street," she said. "I have these huge piles in the center of the street and not enough equipment to get to it."

The situation was so dire, Capello was urging landscapers and anyone with plows or loaders who is available for subcontracting to contact Getz at 717-228-4490.

"We have a lot more streets and alleys that need assistance," she said.

But the time darkness fell on another long day, Capello said that progress had made on many side streets and that they would be the focus on Tuesday. Crews were scheduled to continue removing snow from main street from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. when the shift towards plowing side roads would begin. Parking areas in front of the U.S. post office and Lebanon Municipal Building, both no South Eighth Street would be an early priority, she said.

"I feel like we made a dent on the narrow street and alley situation," she said. "We really made good progress today. Once we get everything great on the snow emergency routes, we will put more effort on improving the everything else."

Capello said the 24-hour sidewalk ordinance is not yet being enforced, but asked for people to continue removing snow from sidewalks

"I don't want to say they are of less importance, but I've been concentrating on making sure ambulances can get where they need to go and trying to get commerce back up and running," she said.

While dealing with the roads took most of their attention on Monday, both Capello and Getz were also addressing other complications of Saturday's blizzard and keeping a weary eye on the weekend forecast, which predicted the possibility of another significant snowfall.

With temperatures helping to melt the snow and rain predicted for Tuesday evening, clearing buried stormwater drains also became a priority on Monday,  Getz said.

"We've already started to clear the flood prone areas like Elm Street and the Hazel Dike area," she said. "I've got everybody out there everywhere."

*This article comes to us through a partnership between Lebanon Daily News and WITF.

Published in Lebanon, News

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