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Where was the plow?

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    Cars were stuck for hours in traffic on the hill that connects Lansford and Summit Hill. LISA HILES/CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

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    Christy Walck cleans her car off this morning along the 200 block of South Fourth Street in Lehighton. TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS

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    Footsteps are seen in the snow in Jim Thorpe Thursday night. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS

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    A plow truck spreads anti-skid material at Maple Street and Cumberland Avenue, Hometown, at the start of a snowstorm early Thursday afternooon. With temperatures at or below freezing in many places, roads iced up quickly, contributing to many fender benders reported in the area. DONALD R. SERFASS/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

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    Snow and traffic were everywhere in Lansford. MIRNA GLEDHILL/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

Published November 16. 2018 12:28PM

Numerous motorists were caught in the clutches of Thursday’s winter storm.

The first storm of the season resulted in various backups, with some motorists being stranded in traffic for as long as five hours.

Angela Buckles of Summit Hill, was among them.

“I was stuck at the top of Bugzies Mountain, Route 902 for about a half-hour or more waiting for a PennDOT truck to come. I heard the truck had problems and had to go back to the garage. The snow was coming down so fast they couldn’t keep up with it. Thankfully I finally made it after going around lots of stuck cars.”

So, too, was Kelly Gott of Summit Hill.

“I sat from 1:15 to 4:30 p.m. at the bottom of (the) Summit Hill (hill) on (the) Lansford side. Not a plow truck in sight until 2:30 p.m. that had no salt came down one time and went up one time. Not another plow truck in sight. 4:15 p.m. another (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) plow truck came down. This one had salt. I believe this could of been handled a lot differently. PennDOT was well aware of the situation days prior and they weren’t ready for this.”

Lansford Police Sgt. Shawn Nunemacher said the conditions resulted in many vehicles being stuck on the Summit Hill/Lansford Hill.

“The snow and weather started falling so quickly, basically it was pretty hard to keep up with for PennDOT, the borough crews,” Nunemacher said. “The issue was PennDOT was cleaning up the hill, they only arrived with like a half a truck of salt, they couldn’t do the hill.”

Lisa Hiles of Hiles Brothers had a front-row seat to the traffic mess. She said, “Yes we pretty much saw it all yesterday on the hill.”

“It was the weirdest thing, it came on so fast, I literally left my dad’s house in Coaldale, was maybe a few flurries, came up to Lansford, and by the time I came up the hill in Summit Hill. I kicked it in 4-wheel drive,” Hiles said.

A UPS truck, buses and cars were stuck.

“All the small cars were the ones that really caused the problem. When one stopped, they were all stuck,” Hiles said.

One Hiles Brothers truck was caught from 12:45 to 4:30 p.m.

“Sporadically, they seemed to be able to let some people some down. People were walking up the hill, people were walking down the hill. It was crazy.” “I can’t fault the drivers, because they were behind people that shouldn’t have been out. Summit Hill was really kept well.”

Cars stuck everywhere

Summit Hill wasn’t the only place people were stuck. Several incidents took place on the Mansion House Hill outside of Jim Thorpe, closing the road several times.

People coming home from the Lehigh Valley last night reported anywhere from three to five hour commutes. Same with Monroe County commuters.

Gary Hoffman, Monroe County Director of Communications, said, “There were lots of vehicles that were stuck,” Hoffman said. “Interstate 80 was shut down, Route 33 was shut down.”

Hoffman said the storm resulted in a lot of traffic issues.

“People just abandoning their cars along the road, minor accidents,” he said. “I think there was lot of advanced warning, people knew about it for days.”

Hoffman said he hopes the first storm of the year serves as a reminder of what’s in store.

“Normally we get a dusting or inch or two,” he said. “Hopefully, we all learn from this.”

What went wrong?

The hourslong traffic backup wasn’t due to a lack of precautionary measures taken by PennDOT, according to spokesman Sean Brown.

Brown said they had their trucks out and pre-treated the roadways early Thursday morning in advance of the storm.

“We were very aware of what was going on,” Brown said. “We did everything there; we can’t keep the cars off the roadway.”

Brown said it was a situation where everybody was on the roadway at the same time, combined with snow coming down at a rate of 1 to 2 inches per hour during rush hour.

“With everybody out there, it makes it very difficult to be able to plow,” he said. “Everything backed up.”

Brown said conditions such as those that occurred Thursday sometimes make for not the smoothest of situations.

“When our plows are stuck in traffic, we can’t plow,” he said. “We don’t want to be behind the traffic, we want to be ahead of it.”

Elliot Abrams, senior vice president, AccuWeather, said the storm was well predicted as far as the timing of the storm and the amount of precipitation.

Caught off guard

“A lot of people were caught off guard by the intensity of the storm,” Abrams said. “People had gone to work and school, suddenly this storm hits, how am I going to get home.”

Abrams said it was the amount of snowfall in such as short span of time, combined with vehicles getting stuck in traffic, that made for uncomfortable situations.

“What was most astounding was how much snow came down in a short period of time, snowing at 2 inches per hour,” Abrams said. “People began to get stuck, plows couldn’t get to them, you had people getting stranded for hours.”

While it isn’t uncommon for snow to fall this time of year, Abrams said the amount of snowfall — between 8 to 9 inches on average — was a bit much for so early in the season.

Mark Nalesnik, Carbon County Emergency Management Coordinator, said, “The issue was when the snow started, temperatures were down around 26, 27 degrees, the ground was very cold, all the roadways were very slick, which made it very difficult for traveling.”

Nalesnik added. “It was a bad time for traveling, there were a lot of accidents, cars got stranded, police departments had to close roads because cars were stranded in the middle of the roads.”

At least there were no large power outages.

“From my standpoint, we work in the emergency management office and monitor what’s going on in the county; we try to offer assistance as best we can from our 911 center,” he said. “Fortunately, there were no widespread power outages, fortunately we fared pretty well.”

Nalesnik said warmer temperatures will help things return more to normal.

“Now, it’s just the aftermath and getting the roads cleared away,” he said. “Fortunately the temperatures are above freezing, and that’s going to be a huge plus in getting the roadways cleaned up.”





We only pay 57 cents a gallon in Gasoline Tax, what do you expect? Besides, these guys have to take their union breaks.
There's always a Deviant Republican to thank!

Pennsylvania Gas Tax May Soon Be the Highest in the U.S.
By: Sarah Leitner | June 26, 2013

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The gasoline tax would reach 75 cents per gallon, while the diesel tax would surpass $1.00 per gallon.
State Representative: "We will be the highest gas tax in the nation."
Uncapping the Oil Company Franchise Tax would allow Pennsylvania’s gas and diesel taxes to rocket upwards, making them the highest tax rates in the nation. The lifting of the cap to create higher tax revenues is an instrumental part of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s plan to pay for repairs to the state’s crumbling transportation system.

“We will be the highest gas tax in the nation, “ State Rep. Stephen Barrar (R-Delaware) told CBS Philly. “Can you imagine what [the increase in diesel] is going to do to the cost of deliveries?” he added.

According to the American Petroleum Institute, Pennsylvania currently has a gas tax of 50.7 cents per gallon, the fourteenth highest in the nation. New York has the highest gas tax at 68.9 cents, and the national average is 49 cents.

The uncapping would cause the wholesale price to rise by 28.5 cents a gallon for unleaded gasoline and 38.5 cents a gallon for diesel — a price that likely will be passed on to the consumer at the pump.

The proposal to uncap the Oil Company Franchise Tax uncap is part of the transportation bill currently in the House. Corbett’s original transportation bill suggested uncapping the tax over five years, while Senate Bill 1 brought that down to three years. Now, an amendment from House Transportation Committee Chair Dick Hess (R-Bedford) uncaps the tax over a 10-year span.
and how long has your savior governor wolf been in office? time to stop blaming corbett (with your 5 year old email) for the current admins uselessness. nice try, but dig your head out your a** for once and see that it isnt all the republicans faults, as wolf has been around for 4 years and look at the mess we're in
From the above article:

"What went wrong?
The hourslong traffic backup wasn’t due to a lack of precautionary measures taken by PennDOT, according to spokesman Sean Brown.
Brown said they had their trucks out and pre-treated the roadways early Thursday morning in advance of the storm.
“We were very aware of what was going on,” Brown said. “We did everything there; we can’t keep the cars off the roadway.”" ----end quote------

It would be one thing if this "cluster" situation was in a few isolated locations but it appears that basically the roads in whole district were a fiasco. The PennDOT spokesmen quoted above might consider placing at least some of the blame on insufficient assets or planning by management instead of placing the whole fault on the taxpaying motorist. Is this the first time PennDOT has experienced snow on the roads? Of course not, but I have to say that as far as my personal experience driving under such conditions, even in Wild Wonderful West Virginia, this event ranks at the top of awful.
There's always a spokesperson to tell us what went wrong. What's wrong is PennDOT is just plain terrible. This is something that the media needs to explore, instead of always having penndot saying how prepared they are. Seems that penndot get protection from the media, and in the above article, the cops too. Not enough salt? come on, thats just ridiculous. They don't fix the roads all summer, just stand around and drink coffee all day doing nothing at all. In winter, you'll find their lazy butts either at home or at a diner having coffee. And the media and police coddle these useless lazy state employees. I've seen the local boroughs bust their backs to clean the roads, but the main ones are left to the most useless DOT in the nation. Just disgracefull!
I'll give credit to the writer of this article for actually voicing citizens concerns over the situation instead of bowing down to penndot. maybe an expose should be on this writer's agenda next. find out whats really happening and why penndot does absolutely nothing to rectify their awful service to PA citizens
Someone (most likely more than just someone) got caught with their pants down here. In this day and age there's no excuse for not knowing how strong the storm is and exactly when it will arrive, and being prepared. Using motorists being stuck as an excuse for not being able to get plows through is ludicrous. Proper planning involves knowing the past trouble spots (like maybe steep hills could be a problem?) and making sure they are addressed early on, e.g., being at those trouble spots before traffic is stuck on the hills.
Who determines who should or should not be on the roads?
Sorry if not everyone can have a large vehicle with 4 wheel drive, referring to blaming people driving small cars.
Again, demand a full investigation. Demand a new Executive Director of PENNDOT, since this one can't handle 7 inches of snow. Be vocal! Protest! This is inexcusable! The hard-working tax -payers have had enough! !
I was stuck in traffic for 6 hours it normally is a hour commute. seen 4 plow trucks on my commute. Guess the brine didn't work. time to look at how penndot plans for snow storms.Need to change management for sure. To blame motorist for getting stuck in the snow is crazy. when plow trucks exit the turnpike to be stuck in traffic instead of continuing to plow the turnpike is stupid. I understand the plow drivers are doing what they are directed to do. need to change MANAGEMENT before next storm. Maybe someone from the Northern states who can manage a snow storm? Stop Brining the roads waste of money, spend that money and time on more plows and salt. Salt hills would help people not get stuck

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