Slippery roads forecast for this morning, no surprise for a winter day, will once again have residents concerned about travel and the condition of their own road.


Slippery roads forecast for this morning, no surprise for a winter day, will once again have residents concerned about travel and the condition of their own road. Whether it is a state road with PennDOT crews out in force, or a township or borough byway tackled by municipal crews, the plowman is our hero when he (or she) comes by.
There is a priority system used by PennDOT directing which roads are done before others, said Ted Zurla, Maintenance Manager of the Wayne County Office. A recent complaint was heard by a resident living on a state-owned dirt road, which seems to take longer to be treated than the resident liked.
Wayne County has 172 miles of state-owned roads, with 42 miles of them being dirt-surfaced. In the last several years, PennDOT has paved enough to reduce the total from 67 miles of dirt roads.
Interstate 84 is their first priority, followed by the highly traveled state roads including routes 6, 191, 371, 370, 590 and others. After that they handle the secondary roads.
Dirt roads can be a special problem, said Zurla. Their trucks go out in a  winter storm loaded with salt, but it is not good to put salt on dirt roads. When temperatures warm, the salt makes the roads excessively muddy. Instead, the crew needs to empty to dump the salt and fill the truck with ant-skid material for use on dirt roads, so it may take longer.
PennDOT has five stockpiles of road material in different areas of the county; each area has its own trucks, and there are not enough trucks to dedicate one just to work on dirt roads, he noted. In all they use 40 trucks, and if needed that  can rent seven more.
Winter road maintenance is done regardless if school is in session or not, Zurla said. They respond any day of the week equally, and he commented how the workmen often have a thankless job. “If it snowed during the Superbowl, they’d be out there,” he said, as well as holidays and other times they might rather be off.
In anticipation of a storm they spread salt brine on the interstate and other critical areas, which creates a film of salt not easily disturbed by traffic,
He advised motorists to take their time in slippery conditions, and allow extra time for reaching their destination.
If anyone has a state road concern, he urged people to let them know by calling the Wayne County Office (253-3130).
Meanwhile, Zurla quipped, he was hoping the groundhog wouldn’t see his shadow this Saturday, promising an early spring.