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Highway Department

Mount Sinai senior Damian Di Marco and Rocky Point senior Jade Pinkenburg show off certificates of congratulations from Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro after receiving $500 scholarships. Photo from Brookhaven Town

Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) awarded two local seniors with $500 scholarships from the highway superintendents association.

Mount Sinai High School senior Damian DiMarco and Rocky Point High School senior Jade Pinkenburg were selected from dozens of applicants.

“While all of the applicants were admirable, I was extremely impressed with both Damian’s and Jade’s transcripts, including the challenging class schedules they sustain while maintaining exceptional grades,” Losquadro said. “Both possess creativity and curiosity — qualities which will be very helpful as they pursue careers in engineering.”

New machine fills a depression in 60 to 90 seconds; can repair more than 100 per day

Pothole Killer repairs a depression on Laurel Road in East Northport March 5. Photo By Sara-Megan Walsh.

Huntington Town officials are excited to be taking the Pothole Killer out for a test run on the local roadways. Hopefully, it will mean a smoother ride for all.

Kevin Orelli (D), Huntington’s Superintendent of Highways, unveiled that the town has struck an agreement with Patch Management, Inc. to try out a one-man spray-injection machine to repair potholes and cracks in Huntington’s roads during the next several months.

Huntington Superintendent of Highways Kevin Orelli and Supervisor Chad Lupinacci in front of the Pothole Killer. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh.

“We’ve been repairing potholes for than 50 years in the same method,” ORelli said. “We want to bring the Town of Huntington into the 21st century and use a new, more efficient method to do that work.”

Currently, Orelli said he sends out a crew of highway department workers with a hotbox containing hot asphalt to lay down a patch over the pothole. He estimated that a crew can fill approximately 40 potholes a day using this method.

Scott Kleiger, the inventor of the Pothole Killer with Patch Management said his machine can fill the average pothole in 60 to 90 seconds, with a skilled operator repairing more than 100 per day.

The Pothole Killer is run by a trained operator who remains inside the cab of the truck at all times, according to Kleiger, avoiding the roadway hazard of oncoming traffic.

“One of the key elements of this is safety,” he said as a former public works employee. “The job they do out there for the common good of the people is very dangerous and very tedious.”

Using a joystick, the machine’s operator positions an external arm over the crack or pothole which blows pressurized air into it, removing all loose debris. The machine is used to spray an asphalt emulsion, or “tack coat,” that provides an adhesive base for the filler material to bond to. Next, the machine coats aggregate filler in the asphalt emulsion to fill the hole or crack to surface level. Last, dry material is sprayed over the top of the repair.

Pothole Killer drops aggregate filler coated with asphalt into a depression. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh.

“The roadway is open immediately, as it doesn’t stick to their tires,” said Brian Rutledge, a field sales agent for Patch Management.

Rutledge said the Pothole Killer is currently used in 10 states, including by Rhode Island and New Jersey Department of Transportation. Resident may be able to see the machine in action as New York State Department of Transportation uses it to fill holes and cracks along the Long Island Expressway.

Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said that given this winter’s extreme cold weather, he anticipates it will be particularly bad year for potholes. The town has received more than 500 phone calls, according to Orelli, and already repaired more than 2,000 potholes this year.

“We expect the situation to get worse over the next several weeks, especially as we enter the spring season,” Lupinacci said.

Drivers can report developing cracks and potholes by visiting the town’s website at www.huntingtonny.gov, and going to Highway Department page, or by calling the Highway Operations Center directly at 631-499-0444.

Brookhaven Town Highway Department offers funds to engineering majors

Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) invites high school seniors to apply for one of two $500 Highway Superintendent’s Association scholarships. Applicants should submit a cover letter and high school transcript, with a 400-word maximum essay about why they plan to pursue a career in engineering. Applications should be submitted to kdandrea@brookhavenny.gov by Friday, Nov. 17.

20th Street renamed Thomas Lateulere Street in memory of firefighter, good neighbor

Wading River Fire Department unveiled the new Thomas Lateulere Street sign on 20th Street Aug. 30. Photo by Robert Quaranta

By Kyle Barr

Under the newly-placed sign that says Thomas Lateulere Street high above their heads, family, friends, neighbors and volunteer firemen of the Wading River Fire Department could only remember the man the street was named after as a modest, kind and gentle soul who gave everything he had to the fire department and the community.

“It was great of the fire department to honor him like this — I never expected it, and the crowd that came, never,” Thomas Lateulere mother Joann said as she walked back to her house on the street now named after her son. “They all came to honor him, which was wonderful.”

Family memebrers, friends, members of the Wading River Fire Department and Riverhead Town were on site for the renaming of 20th Street as Lateulere Street, in memory of Thomas Lateulere, an ex-chief of Wading River Fire Department who lost a battle with cancer in 2016. Photo by Robert Quaranta

Volunteer firefighters, public officials, neighbors and friends of Thomas Lateulere, a commissioner and ex-chief in Wading River who died last July after a battle with cancer, all came to honor the man as his name was dedicated to the street where he grew up.

“He worked up until the last day he had to go to the hospital and he died,” said Latuelere’s former girlfriend Raegin Kellerman. “He was still there training students, and he was just a good man, a very good man. He loved it, too, it was a passion for him. He just enjoyed training his members on all these new advancements. He was all into new technology, new medical care and he did his research on everything. He just really loved them, it was a family to him.”

Lateulere had worked with the Wading River Fire Department and EMS for 35 years. He started when he was a young teen as a junior for the department, and he moved up through the ranks until he reached commissioner and chief. He was also one of the first paramedics to work with Suffolk County’s medevac helicopters, which are used to transport those in need of medical attention to a hospital.

“He was a really caring guy, cared about the members down here,” said current Wading River Fire Chief Kevin McQueeney. “He was the kind of guy that if your son was hurt, you wanted him to show up on the call — you knew that he was the best of the best. He is missed down here; he was a guidance down here.”

Neighbors who lived close to Lateulere said they felt safe with him nearby. Many of them knew him as “Tommy.”

“Almost everybody on this street had to call an ambulance at some time or another,” said Wading River resident and neighbor Chris Hopkins. “He heard it on the radio and he was there within two minutes He personally came twice in the middle of the night when I needed an ambulance, he was in my house within a minute taking charge of everybody, even telling the ambulance people to take good care of me. Everyone up and down our street he was there for. He was a shy fellow, but he was amazing; he was so amazing.”

Members of the Wading River Fire Department honored former chief Thomas Lateulere during a street-renaming ceremony. Photo by Robert Quaranta

Few roads have been dedicated to individuals, so Riverhead Town Highway DepartmentDeputy Superintendent Mike Zaleski said that it would be a nice way to remember the man who touched the lives of so many.

“I would say we might have dedicated fice streets to individuals, and I’ve been with the town going on 24 years,” Zakesji said.”It has to be very noteworthy, somebody special,. It’s well deserved here.”

Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said the steet renaming was the least the town could do.

“I mean he’s a 35-year volunteer and commissioner of the fire department, EMS worker and trainer — there are very few people in the world who excel at that level, especially to protect life safety,” Walter said.

Kellerman said that the street sign should also serve as a call for more people to volunteer their time to the local fire department and EMS, showing how the service of the men and women on call all day ever week does not go unoticed, and how the dedication and service can affect and save lives.

“They’re out at 2 or 3 in the morning helping people, and the rest of us are sleeping,” she said. “The ambulances, the fire departments, we need volunteers, we need volunteers to keep people safe.”

The name Thomas Lateulere is an addition to 20th street, so that maps will not be affected or changed, and so that the renaming doesn’t lead to confusion. Lateulere might have appreciated that — just another small sacrifice for even the smallest greater good.

“I think he would be shy and embarrassed by it, all this hoopla,” Hopkins said. “But I think he would secretly be quite proud.”

The corner of King and Oxalis road flooded as garbage cans floated to the center of the dip at the intersection following severe rainfall Aug. 18. Photo from Sara Wainwright

By Desirée Keegan

Rocky Point residents are flooded with emotion over the rise in water level during recent storms.

As rain fell on King and Oxalis roads during the heavy rainfall Aug. 18, residents reached out to Brookhaven Town’s highway department in search of answers as to why their questions of concern have not been answered.

“I know we sound like a broken record regarding the flooding conditions at King and Oxalis, but I am writing to continue to follow up on this situation,” Rocky Point resident Sara Wainwright wrote in a letter to the highway department. “We’ve been complaining for years about the flooding, which used to be occasional, and now occurs nearly every time it rains.”

Flooding runs down an almost mile-length on King Road in Rocky Point. Photo from Sara Wainwright

She said, and the highway department confirmed, that additional drains were added, but Wainwright claims they’re in places where they do not help to relieve the flooding, and said the town has to send out manpower and equipment to pump the drains almost every big storm.

“My husband, Frank, had a lengthy conversation with Kevin from the highway department, and members walked the property,” said Wainwright, who lives on King Road right across from the Oxalis intersection. “We suggested and Kevin agreed to look into installing additional drains on our property in front of our trees. We have heard nothing else on this since, and the conditions have continued to deteriorate with every storm.”

Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) said that 12 drainage structures have been installed in the specific area of Rocky Point over the last year to alleviate flooding conditions. He said the cost of the systems was more than $70,000.

But Wainwright and her neighbors say the streets are still dangerous during heavy rain.

“This is the worst we have seen from rain alone — the water is nearly up to my neighbor’s front walkway,” she said Aug. 18. “Highway department workers did drive by and they did mention there are other flooding conditions today, however this is an ongoing issue that I have been requesting help with for several years. Please do not try to pacify me with ‘we had lots of flooding everywhere today.’ Even the fire department sent out warnings to responders that the road is closed due to flooding here.”

Losquadro responded that “flooding everywhere” is part of the problem, but said recent studies have shown that there is still a drainage issue in the vicinity.

“When we have significant rain events like this morning — when nearly four inches of rain fell within a few hours — most drainage structures will struggle to dissipate the runoff quickly enough to maintain a water-free surface,” he said. “I am well aware of the conditions experienced this morning both in Rocky Point and across central and northern Brookhaven Town and immediately dispatched crews to these areas to pump out existing drainage structures to alleviate flooded road conditions.”

Wainwright said that cars still speed down the road as flooding persists, and said this summer a man was trapped in his car when it died as he passed through.

Flooding on King and Oxalis roads. Photo from Sara Wainwright

“Please let me know how the town plans to proceed to resolve this issue as opposed to using our tax dollars to send out, and put at risk, employees and equipment,” Wainwright wrote in the letter. “Cars travel very fast down this road and have no regard for your workers, unfortunately. Another time, a police car became stuck, and multiple others of cars travel so fast they send a wake over my treetops. I think you get my point.”

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point), who has lived in Rocky Point for the last 30 years, has witnessed the issue firsthand, and receives concerned calls and emails regarding the matter.

“Residents send me photos and ask for my help,” she said. “The highway department and Dan Losquadro have been doing a great job paving roads, repairing drains and putting out massive storm water infrastructure. As a resident of Rocky Point I know some flood spots are better than others, and I’m thankful I live at the top of a hill, but I have seen when the rain stops, it does drain pretty quickly. It’s a matter of massive pileup over a short period of time.”

Wainwright said at the very least, she feels there should be street signs indicating the risk of flood conditions, and a warning to signal drivers to slow down as they move through the at-risk streets.

“I’m concerned as the season progresses that we will see more rain and possibly tropical storm and hurricane conditions,” Wainwright said in her letter. “My neighbors and I should not need to worry about flooding at elevation — you must understand that is ridiculous. We are all taxpayers. Please communicate to us as to how you plan to use the money that we have all been paying to remedy this safety issue.”

Losquadro said his engineering division recently completed a drainage study in and around the area of King and Oxalis roads, and came to the conclusion that there is still some concern.

“I will be moving forward with additional drainage infrastructure to handle more volume than what had been designed for in the past,” he said, “thereby preventing this condition from happening again.”

Robert Murphy, left, looks to continue serving as Smithtown’s highway superintendent, while challenger Justin Smiloff, right, looks to replace him. Photos by Victoria Espinoza

Two candidates are vying to serve the unexpired term of former Smithtown Highway Superintendent Glenn Jorgensen (R), who resigned in October 2015 shortly before pleading guilty to felony and misdemeanor charges.

When the two candidates were interviewed together at the TBR News Media’s main office earlier this month, it seemed the battle lines were drawn according to age. Deputy Highway Supervisor Robert Murphy (R) has been the acting supervisor for almost a year, since the town board named him to replace Jorgensen. He is 53.

His Democratic challenger is lifelong Smithtown resident and attorney Justin Smiloff, who said he “doesn’t need the job, but wants it because he thinks he can make a difference.” In addition to a law degree, he has an undergraduate degree in accounting, which he said he would use to “see what I can do to get more for less.” He is 35.

Among the topics of contention was the restoration of free leaf bag distribution to residents. “The leaf bag program is beneficial to taxpayers,” Smiloff said, “and if cost is a problem, cuts should be made from other areas.”

Murphy said the last time leaf bags were distributed was 10 years ago, at a cost of $187,000.

“With the 2 percent cap Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) established, some services have had to be eliminated,” he said, adding he thinks the brown paper bags could be mulched with leaves and don’t serve their intended purpose if they’ve been sitting out in the rain.

Technology use in the Highway Department was also discussed. Smiloff said his youth is an advantage in that area. He wants to see a modern, user-friendly website and feels residents should be able to text message the department. In addition, he will look at technology used in other places. Murphy said he is already networking with other highway superintendents. The Town of Brookhaven’s Dan Losquadro (R) has shared information about geographic information system currently being used to identify potholes.

Another item of debate was the use of energy-efficient vehicles.

“If we reduce the cost for fuel, money could be used for more beneficial things to help residents,” Smiloff said. On this, Murphy was in agreement. However, with $800,000 a year you can buy only four trucks, he said, indicating it will take some time to achieve true energy efficiency.

Smiloff promises voters “a new day and a new start.”

“I would deliver for taxpayers in a manner they haven’t seen before,” he said. He believes a clean sweep is necessary for taxpayers’ peace of mind.

In contrast, Murphy said his experience is worth its weight in gold.

“I have over 30 years in the field — 20 years in the private sector and [about] 10 in public civil engineering — and I have been at the department for the last five years,” he said.

In the year he’s run the department, he said he’s seen where improvements need to be made. He noted that his morals and ethics have never been questioned, and he will make sure that everything is done legally.

Friendship Beach in Rocky Point will receive renovations to improve the infrastructure which will limit erosion and enhance water quality. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By Desirée Keegan

Friendship Beach in Rocky Point is next on the list of local beaches receiving renovations.

The Brookhaven Town Board recently adopted a resolution approving a $1,215,000 bond to pay for erosion control and drainage improvements, which will limit pollutants in local ground and drinking water, while also helping to improve the water quality of the Long Island Sound.

Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) secured the Federal Emergency Management Agency funding through a State Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grant, which is given to help reduce or eliminate long-term risk from natural disasters. Friendship Beach, along with others on the North Shore, was heavily affected following Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

“This project will help us not only from an erosion standpoint, but also to prevent pollution,” Losquadro said. “The hazard mitigation program allows us to repair or replace, but replace with something much better and stronger. It hardens our infrastructure to leave us less vulnerable to damage from future storms.”

“The hazard mitigation program allows us to repair or replace, but replace with something much better and stronger. It hardens our infrastructure to leave us less vulnerable to damage from future storms.”

—Dan Losquadro

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) recently spoke about the significance of the Sound at press conference at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai, where he called on the Environmental Protection Agency to keep its commitment to permanently close the Eastern Long Island Sound disposal sites.

“The Long Island Sound, an EPA designated Estuary of National Significance and one of the nation’s most populated watersheds, is a cultural and natural treasure that provides a diverse ecosystem with more than 170 species of fish, over 1,200 invertebrates and many different species of migratory birds,” he said. “The Sound is also essential to the everyday economy and livelihood of millions of Long Islanders. Over the years, water quality on Long Island has suffered severely from issues such as pollution and overdevelopment, but through work between the EPA, state and local governments, and dedicated Long Islanders, progress has been made to improve water quality and ecosystem health in the Sound.”

Improving the local North Shore beaches will help eliminate some of the waste that makes it’s way into the Sound.

According to the highway superintendent, improvements at Friendship Beach include the addition of armoring stone, which are two to three-ton granite boulders that are used to strengthen and fortify the area; over 200 feet of bulkheading; replacing the drainage system with a filtration system that includes catch basins that separate sediments and solids rather than it being discharged into the water; along with replacing the stairs and planting native beach grass.

What Losquadro said is important about armoring stone is that unlike worn down Long Island boulders, the blasted granite the town will be installing is angular, helping the stones lock together to protect beaches. This is unlike the rounded edges of natural existing stone, which is easier for material like sand and debris to slide around the edges. The new uniform surface will stop the sand from migrating or getting sucked out by hydraulic action, to limit erosion. There will also be stone placed above the boulders, to disperse the energy of waves and help prevent water and sand from breaching the wall.

Improvements to Friendship Beach in Rocky Point include the addition of armoring stone and and a filtration system. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Improvements to Friendship Beach in Rocky Point include the addition of armoring stone and and a filtration system. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) said it has been a long time coming.

“I sat in on several meetings with FEMA and was at the beaches with FEMA representatives showing them the magnitude of the problem,” she said. “The areas along the North Shore have become severely compromised, especially because everything around here flows downhill.”

Sills Gully Beach in Shoreham and Amagansett Drive in Sound Beach are two areas that have already received upgrades, although the restoration part of the cleanup at Amagansett Drive will not be covered by FEMA. Currently, the highway department is working on completing Gully Landing improvements in Miller Place, and is close to getting approval to renovate Hallock Landing. Broadway is also on the town’s list.

Losquadro said dealing with FEMA, is unlike the normal process of getting help from the town’s environmental division or the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The Environmental Protection Agency and United States Army Corps of Engineers are involved, which make sure the undertakings are well vetted and that the completed project meets stringent guidelines.

“This is an instance where being persistent and consistence really pays off,” Bonner said. “As a resident of the community I know how vital these structures are to bluff stabilization and water quality. These projects will help the Long Island Sound for fisherman, users, the fish that live in the water — there’s a whole host of reasons why this is a good thing. This is another spoke in the wheel to assure water quality by reducing stormwater runoff and pollutants associated with it.”

Highway super takes systems online

Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro sifts through a town map with the touch of his finger. Photo by Phil Corso

Managing one of the largest highway departments in New York State takes a lot of work, and Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) has put all of it in the palm of his hand.

As of Jan. 5, the entire department went paperless with a new electronic work order system and by the end of that month, foremen in the field either updated or closed more than 1,500 work orders using a mobile app on town-issued iPads. In an exclusive interview with TBR News Media, Losquadro and his team said the Brookhaven highway department has raised the bar for municipalities across the state.

“To me, this is nothing short of transformative,” Losquadro said. “Improving efficiencies of the highway department has been one of my priorities since taking office three years ago.”

In the past, Brookhaven residents hoping to see something as simple as a pothole being repaired in front of their home would need to file a work order, which an office staffer would enter into a computer, print out and then deliver to a foreman, typically taking five to seven days before resolution. But now, the highway superintendent said, the information can be shared almost immediately.

“We owe that to our customers, because they deserve the response that a customer from any business should get,” Losquadro said, referring to his Brookhaven constituents.

The new paperless system capitalized on already existing geographic information systems the town had invested in over recent years to help create one cohesive platform, allowing town employees to view, update and create work orders in real time, from the field. And through each step of development, Losquadro said foremen and town workers who would be using the technology on a daily basis provided their feedback.

Matt Sabatello, who works in the town’s tech department, worked alongside a dedicated crew of in-house developers to grow the mobile application and make it accessible for all town employees. With more than a decade of experience working with the town already under his belt, Sabatello said he has seen the arc of technological advancement go into overdrive under Losquadro’s direction.

Some of the interactive features Losquadro and his team helped to launch over the past year included color-coded visual queues identifying outstanding work orders, a display of all open work orders prioritized by the date created and a new “follow me” GPS-enabled feature that could be used to identify problem areas as well as track town vehicles when they are out in the field.

“If you see something, create a work order,” Losquadro said, playing off the Metropolitan Transportation Authority slogan, “if you see something, say something.”

And the efficiencies stretch far beyond a run-of-the-mill pothole fix, too. John Giannott, a senior administrator with the highway department, said the mobile technology has made Brookhaven’s response time to serious weather events such as severe snowfall nearly two hours quicker.

“We keep finding new uses for this every day,” he said. “It puts you ahead of the curve, because all your assets are tracked.”

The “green” technology has also allowed the town to apply for state grants and emergency relief funds in a more efficient way, making Brookhaven that much more equipped for more green.

Looking ahead, Losquadro said he hoped to see other facets of Brookhaven government follow suit in implementing such technology. He said he has already seen an interest from the town board to use similar platforms to track constituent complaints.

“I had a vision of how I wanted to transform this department,” he said. “Working with them allowed us to move to this point in less than three years.”

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Smithtown Highway Superintendent Robert Murphy sits at Smithtown Town Hall. Photo by Alex Petroski

The Smithtown Highway Department turned the page on a tumultuous 2015 on Tuesday, when Supervisor Pat Vecchio (R) swore in newly appointed Highway Superintendent Robert Murphy.

Murphy, 52, served as the interim superintendent after Glenn Jorgensen resigned in October and pleaded guilty to charges that he falsified public documents. Jorgensen, who had been in the position for about six years, was also accused of sexually harassing one of his employees. Murphy was deputy superintendent from 2012 until the beginning of his interim term this past year.

“I’m confident that Mr. Murphy will continue to perform as he has over the past few months,” Vecchio said in a phone interview. “He’s open to suggestions for efficiency.”

Vecchio also said he’d received more complimentary calls from the community regarding the highway department’s handling of two snowstorms in 2016 than any other storms he can remember.

The supervisor was responsible for nominating Murphy to take over as the permanent superintendent, and the board unanimously approved him.

“It is an absolute pleasure to appoint Mr. Robert Murphy as Smithtown highway superintendent,” Town Board member Lisa Inzerillo (R) said in an email. “Many phone calls from Smithtown residents have come in letting us know what a wonderful job Mr. Murphy has been doing. Robert demonstrates dedication to this position, highway employees and the residents of Smithtown; therefore, appointing Robert is the best decision for our town.”

Murphy said in an interview that he has about 25 years of experience in the engineering field, and a business management degree from the University of Phoenix.

He and his wife Kim both graduated from Smithtown High School East in 1981, and he has lived in Smithtown his whole life, minus a 12-year stay in Arizona.

Murphy returned to Smithtown about six years ago, and before becoming deputy highway superintendent, he spent about two years as a capital projects manager for Suffolk County. He and his wife, who manages an East End Disabilities Associates group home in Riverhead, have a 25-year-old daughter and a 20-year-old son.

“I’m a people person,” Murphy said, when asked which of his qualities would help him in his new position. “I’m a facilitator. I love to get things going in the right direction, and that’s what’s happening at the highway department right now. Communicate with the people, show them respect and they’ll give respect back.”

Murphy said he believes a key to his position is bringing jobs and projects to workers that will leave them with a sense of pride. And Vecchio said he’s noticed an uptick in worker morale since Murphy took over.

“For the four years that I was there and then the interim period, you always think, ‘Let’s change this,’” Murphy said. “Now it’s on your shoulders and you’ve got to make sure you try to implement different things and see if they work and just be a good leader. If you’re a good leader, then guys will follow, and I think that’s the biggest thing.”

Murphy said that he’s looking forward to the challenges and work that he has ahead of him.

Supervisor Frank Petrone speaks on the highway department's preparation for the winter season on Dec. 11. Photo by A.J. Carter.

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.

New dump trucks from the Huntington Highway Department with plows on display at a press conference on Dec. 11. Photo by Victoria Espinoza.
New dump trucks from the Huntington Highway Department with plows on display at a press conference on Dec. 11. Photo by Victoria Espinoza.

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.”