Ready to rumble
Talbot County prepares for winter storms
EASTON — We haven’t gotten hit yet with a big snowstorm, but the Talbot County Roads Department is ready with material in the salt barn for when it happens.
Talbot County has more than 374 miles of roads that need to be cared for throughout the year. This includes programmed and
routine maintenance, paving, ditching, tree removal and culvert replacements.
But it is winter, and it’s an especially a busy time when the county’s 24 employees cover 13 snow routes, pretreating, salting, sanding and removing snow until the event is over and all the roads are clear.
“My biggest advice when bad weather hits, is to be patient, don’t tailgate our equipment and try and stay off the roads if you possibly can, so we can get the roads cleared,” said Warren Edwards, superintendent for the Talbot County Roads Department.
Edwards, who has more than 38 years of experience with road construction, has been with the county for four years.
Each of the county’s 13 routes has at least one truck and sometimes two to three trucks depending on the route. The roads department has 14 trucks and has hired three additional trucks with plows and salt spreaders to meet the needs of county snow removal. Private contractors are hired for designated routes based on need.
“With snowstorms,” Edwards said, “Talbot County offers assistance to all municipalities in the county, as they do us, as well as to the State Highway Administration.”
But it’s the dedication of the county’s 24 employees that often goes unnoticed. More than half the staff of the roads department has over 20 years of experience.
For a storm that puts down 3 inches of snow, it can take eight to 10 hours to complete the snow removal, and 12 inches of snow can take up to 30 hours to remove.
“Our employees are experienced, diligent and seasoned employees,” Edwards said. “They know their jobs, and they do them well. We work straight through these storms, staying in radio contact with drivers every four hours to be sure everything is alright on the routes. They work until the event is over.”
The roads department is in contact with Talbot County Operations Center throughout weather events to clear roads for ambulances and fire equipment. The agency also reaches out to each of the towns in the county to offer help. In the case of a whiteout, snow removal trucks are stationed at the local fire departments throughout the county to work with them in opening roads in the case of emergencies.
“The roads are a necessity that people tend to forget,” Edwards said.
Edwards said customer service is the most important thing in his business. He pointed to more and more weather seasons where there are drainage issues affecting the roads and where infrastructures are failing. Talbot County Roads Department employees are on call from three hours to 35 hours a week all year long, handling the effects of wind, hurricanes, storms and culvert failures throughout the county.
The roads department gets between 110 and 160 road complaints a month, in addition to routine maintenance issues. Every complaint is logged into a card system so that the department can address all citizen concerns.
“We have to prioritize the complaints based on the need, but we want citizens to report their concerns so that we can get ahead of issues that do occur,” Edwards said.
The number to call at the Talbot County Roads Department for concerns is 410-770-8150.
The State Highway Administration’s monolithic dome on Ocean Gateway in Easton, filled with salt, which is used to de-thaw roads during winter events, is pictured on Thursday, Jan. 10.
The 24 employees of the Talbot County Roads Department are ready to care for more than 374 miles of roads when Talbot County gets its first major snowstorm of the season. From left, front row: Matthew Dunn, Efrem Murray, Kevin Wilson, Milton Cornish, Ray Kinsey, Michael Potter, Warren Edwards, Superintendent for Talbot County Roads Department, Dwight Warrick, Brandon Brewer and Autumn Finch; back row: Taylor Lowery, Michael Steenken, Dean Samuel, Arthur Kellum, John Bechtel, Ben Cannon, Michael Dulin, Tim Holland, John Asche, John McNair and Jerry Butler. Not pictured: office manager Lois MacDonald, Richard Harmon and Michael Carroll.