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Charleston Street Workers Prove They Are Worth Their Salt In Severe Weather

Reported: Mar. 4, 2014 8:52 AM EST
Updated: Mar. 4, 2014 11:31 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Stefano DiPietrantonio) -- It may have been bedtime for some late Monday night, but for most of Charleston's Street Department workers, they were just getting started hitting the streets again.

Sleep is the last thing the hard-working drivers get when the city is under a snow assault such as late Sunday night into Monday morning. Many of them will be working to clear the hillier streets all night, but with temperatures down near zero, even salt won't help them.

Listen for the familiar crunching sound for at least a couple more days, as plows cruise by, pushing all that frozen snow pack around, as city and state road crews free us from the icy mess.

"Anything can happen out here in these types of conditions," said Willis Hatfield, who has been driving plows for the city of Charleston for more than 20 years.

Roads around Charleston are snow and ice covered.

"It rains, then it freezes, then it snows and you got ice under that snow," said Hatfield, who said such situations keep drivers hopping. "Whatever it takes to do the job and get Charleston cleaned up, where people can travel."

Some drivers plowed through the weekend, pulling 16-hour shifts. They actually had to stop trucks Monday.

"We did that a couple times, we had to," said Gary Taylor, who heads the Streets Department for Charleston’s Public Works.

There were slips into ditches, with the snow and ice coming down so hard and fast.

"Our drivers don't like it,” Taylor said. “They want to keep going after it. We've got guys out there that are dedicated and they just want to get it done. Actually right now, we're in better shape than I thought we would be this time."

Budgets are tight, so the hills are the main concern. Flatlands like downtown do not get the precious salt.

"We'll plow those instead of salt,” Hatfield said. “Try to conserve the salt."

The city has more salt on order, but Eyewitness News asked what it will do if the city gets hit with another big storm one more time.

"We try to make do with what we have left,” Taylor said. “We have about a thousand ton left. We'll mix it with some aggregate, if we have to, to stretch it out a little bit farther."

And with people's patience stretching thin, Taylor said it can't be too long now.

Taylor said he is ready for warmer weather.

“Real sick of it. This has been one of those long winters with a lot of things going on, but I guess sunnier days are coming," he said.

Taylor said his crews would be out on the streets, monitoring slick spots in town all Monday night. Then wage another full-scale plow and salt attack starting at 4 a.m. Tuesday.



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