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Friday, 16 January 2015 09:30

Plowing Through Winter

By | News

Wilton’s Crew Tackles Snow One Storm at a Time

WILTON – Local plow crews had their work cut out for them with the few snow storms Mother Nature threw our way at the beginning of the week. Snow means planning for most people, including Kirk Woodcock. But instead of planning to wake up extra early to scrape the ice off of his windshield or clear his driveway, which he does, he also makes sure the roads are safe for all Wilton residents.

Woodcock, Highway Superintendent for the Town of Wilton, has perhaps one of the most important jobs during the winter – snow removal. With a fleet of 14 vehicles equipped with two operators, huge plows, salt and sand under his direction, residents have an easier commute despite weather conditions. 

“Each storm is different, no two storms are the same,” said Woodcock.

Although every storm is different, the way crews approach the task at hand is the same. Before they can head out and tackle the snow, operators inspect their vehicles and conduct a maintenance check. After that, they’ll fill their trucks with sand, salt or a mixture of both. The trucks are over 10 feet high and can way upwards of 30 tons, so Woodcock assigns a team of two operators to every truck.

“Each driver has their own area and they check out their area ahead of time,” said Woodcock. “Each guy, most of the time, has their own truck so they’re familiar with the truck and how it operates.”

Each vehicle covers about 15 miles, plowing both sides of the roads in their designated areas. In total, Wilton’s fleet plows more than 200 miles a day, most of which is residential.

“We have so many subdivisions and cul-de-sacs that we have to plow around,” said Woodcock. “Our routes are well over 50 percent subdivision now. It slows down our operation tremendously.”

Not only does plowing in a subdivision mean crews have to work at a slower speed, they also have to deal with obstacles that pose a safety risk, such as leaving garbage cans in the road or parking cars on the highway.  

“Garbage cans in the road create a nightmare for the plowing crews,” said Woodcock. “If you hit it, it gets knocked over and that’s not what we want to have happen. Garbage trucks have an 8-foot arm that can extend into a driveway to get the garbage can, so we encourage folks to leave them in the driveway.”

Woodcock’s team is on call 24/7 and can easily work 12 to 15-hour days. The typical start time is 4 a.m., so roads are cleared for buses to make their routes.

“Over on Corinth Mountain Road, with Ace and Target being in our town and the thousands of employees they have, that’s the main route into our town now,” said Woodcock. “I have to plan on having that taking care of so they can get up and down the hill 24/7 pretty much.”

While planning is a huge part of the job, Woodcock says crews are at the mercy of Mother Nature. He says he spends most nights watching weather forecasts on local news stations to help him prepare for the days ahead.

“Sometimes the weather people don’t get it right and I can’t always go by what they’re saying,” laughs Woodcock. “So I also go by my experience and my gut feeling. I’ve been pretty successful with that.”

With 28 years of experience as the highway superintendent along with more than 70 years of being a Wilton resident, Woodcock has a lot of knowledge to draw from; but he’s quick to admit it’s a team effort.

 

"I have the best crew in the county. I really do," said Woodcock. "When the chips are down, these guys are right there...unbelievable bunch of guys. They do a great job." 

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