Syracuse looks to add 10 new snowplows: ‘Our fleet is old’

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — When City of Syracuse Department of Public Works Commissioner Jeremy Robinson looks at the plows he sends out every time snow falls, he wonders if all of them will make their way back.

“You can ask the residents. We get calls all the time about streets that are not being plowed and I urge them to be patient with us and we will get to your street,” Robinson said. “Sometimes in the middle of the route, a plow will go down.”

The City of Syracuse only has 24 plows for fighting snow. Lately, less than 20 are asked to plow the whole city.

“We have 24 plows with probably five to seven of them down,” Robinson said. “We probably average 17 plows on the road and that is not going to cut it for the size of Syracuse and the amount of snow we get in the Northeast.”

The age of the plows is what is leading to breakdowns. Of the 24 plows in service, 11 of them are 13 years or older. The average age of a Syracuse plow truck is 10 years.

“People don’t even drive their cars that long,” Robinson said.

The trucks are used all year long. When they are not plowing, they are picking up brush.

Robinson and Mayor Ben Walsh’s Office are asking the Syracuse Common Council to approve the purchase of 10 new trucks that would only be used for plowing.

On Wednesday, Mayor Walsh unveiled three steps to fortify the city’s snow removal equipment:

  • The Thruway Authority will loan the city two surplus snow plow trucks at no cost for the remainder of this winter.
  • The city will procure a plow through a surplus program operated by the U.S. Government Services Administration (GSA).
  • The city will acquire ten new ten-wheel dump-snow plows as well as three plow-equipped pickups to be ready for the winter of 2020-21.

“Working with the Thruway Authority and the GSA is a smart way for us in the short term to begin addressing the age of our fleet. The plows in our fleet have an average-years-of-service of a decade which leads to more frequent repairs and downtime. That puts stress on our whole team and hurts our service to residents. These acquisitions will help bridge the gap to the new additions to our fleet which, by acting now, we expect to have on the streets for next winter.”

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh

“By loaning two surplus seven-ton plow trucks to the City of Syracuse, the Thruway Authority is pleased to be able to bolster the city’s snow fighting fleet,” said Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll. “This partnership demonstrates the critical value of government collaborations between the state and municipalities.”

The Department of Public Works is proposing to enter into a no-cost permit agreement with the Thruway Authority under which two 7-ton snow plow trucks will be made available to the city. The city also plans to obtain a 9- year-old six-wheel 4×4 plow/dump truck from the GSA. The truck comes at no cost to the city aside from GSA fees totaling less than $4,000.

The city will pay for five of the new snow plows and the three plow-equipped pickups. Syracuse will be reimbursed for five plows under the State Department of Transportation Consolidated Highway Improvement Program. Total cost of the new equipment to the city will be approximately $1.1 million.

The Common Council is set to vote on these proposals Monday, January 13.

“We just retired a few of our plows that are almost 20 years old,” said Robinson. “We’ve been out on the roads with those plows and it is just not cutting it. When I get all the calls I say ‘It is time for a change’ and I wanted to make this drastic change, this plea to council to say: ‘Hey look, our fleet is old.’ We get some of the heaviest snow in the Northeast. and sometimes it is unbearable for us to keep up so, I want to make sure we have the right equipment to keep up with the snow.”

In addition to the new equipment, Syracuse also announced it has hired a citywide director of fleet operations with focused responsibility on managing the maintenance and acquisition of City of Syracuse vehicles and truck equipment. With a job description updated and expanded under Mayor Walsh, the director will manage the fleet operations program across all departments, including procurement and administration, inventory, inspections, preventative maintenance, repairs and replacement scheduling, ensuring sufficiency and safety of fleet and equipment for daily operations.

The Syracuse Common Council authorized the new position in the city’s 2020 budget.

For more local news, follow Josh Martin on Twitter @JoshMartinNC9

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