Ready to rum­ble

Tal­bot County pre­pares for win­ter storms

The Star Democrat - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

PHOTO BY JACK RODGERS

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.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

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.

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