Winter is coming — and the Huntington Highway Department is ready for it.
In an effort to make the season as seamless as possible, the department has bulked up its winter arsenal with additional dump trucks, refurbished old ones and updated and digitized response services to make the town more accessible to residents.
Highway Superintendent Pete Gunther said the operations center was recently enacted within the highway department to make the town more productive when responding to residents’ requests for assistance services such as plowing. He said residents could simply email the operations center through the town’s website if they require help, where foreman will be notified via iPads to keep them up-to-date on service requests.
“We’ve become really automated now,” Gunther said at a press conference on Friday. “Anything that comes into the operation center can be immediately routed to the area foreman — whether it’s snow or a storm — and take care of whatever the problem is.”
Town Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said that the department’s efforts are a true example of what Huntington can do when there is cooperation, especially with what he called a “most effective” highway superintendent, who Petrone said has done wonders at his job.
“The people have been served very well by Pete Gunther,” he said at the press conference.
Gunther said the town has acquired 10 new dump trucks this year, equipped with plows and sanders that should last between 25 and 30 years. The town also refurbished 10 older dump trucks with updates like stainless steel bodies to remedy damage from salt exposure.
The Huntington Town Board allocated $260,000 for the stainless steel repairs, according to Gunther, and the project was completed $18,000 under budget, adding 12 to 15 years of service to the trucks.
“He’ll be in his eighth term by the time he has to do this again,” Petrone joked. Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) said Gunther and his team planned on bringing the town forward in terms of technology.
“To be this prepared this early without the snow is a testament to your leadership,” Edwards said to Gunther.
As for technology upgrades, the department gained 200 portable GPS devices to give to private contractors who help the department during emergencies, allowing the department to reposition equipment in real-time.
Petrone said the town has also mobilized town workers so that they are available if needed for larger highway department projects.
Gunther also urged residents to not park their cars on the street during a storm, as well as leaving basketball hoops set up in the street, to help make plowing as quick and effective as possible.
Thanks to the improvements and upgrades, Guther said, “We are a more efficient and better highway department.”