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The Town of Amherst has a population over 122,000 people and a land size encompassing 53.2 square miles which includes 511 miles of roads. Amherst is the largest Town in Upstate New York. The Amherst Highway Department has in place the following procedures and guidelines for snow and ice removal. The Highway Department is responsible to salt and plow over 320 miles of Town and County roadways. Most of the major roadways in Town are maintained by New York State DOT and Erie County Highway.
The following procedures are general guidelines that the Amherst Highway Department follows. Severe or unpredictable weather conditions will alter when and how the Highway Department responds to certain weather related storms or events.
There are three separate lists of employees that are assigned to a group for salting the roads. Each group is comprised of supervisors, heavy equipment operators, truck drivers and mechanics. The group of employees are responsible to be available 24/7 for 7 consecutive days. When the snow starts to fall or roads become icy the Highway Department will contact the Amherst Police about the road conditions. The General Foreman on duty, if necessary, will notify the working crew chiefs “on call” to check out the road conditions. Once it is determined to treat the Town’s roadways with salt the “on call” personnel are notified to come into work. There are 15 designated “salting routes” in the Town, and a salting truck is designated for each route. It takes approximately 5 hours to salt all the roads that the Highway Department is responsible to maintain.
If the snow accumulates to the point that the salt is not effective the Highway Department will then go into a snow plow operation. When this happens there are 104 employees called in to work. There are 47 plow routes consisting of hi-lifts, large plow trucks and pickup truck plows. There is also a full complement of mechanics that service the equipment. To completely clear the entire Town which includes roadways, Town municipal lots and sidewalk district areas it will take about 6 to 8 hours. The Highway Department trucks are instructed to treat the higher traffic volume roads first. They will then go into the secondary roads. Dead end courts or cul de sacs will take longer to clean due to the limited access for the large plow vehicles. No one is sent home or allowed to leave until all the areas in the Town are clear.
Snow Parking Ban
The most desirable time to plow snow is when the Town’s parking ban is in effect. The parking ban runs from November 1st thru March 31st from 1am to 7am and prohibits any vehicles from parking on the roads in the Town. This allows the Highway Department trucks to clean the roads more effectively without vehicle traffic interference.
It is very important to keep the Refuse and Recycling totes out of the street. The totes will obstruct the plowing operation and the plow truck could damage the tote. It is illegal to deposit snow or ice into the street. The person, property owner or private plow operator can be given a summons if they violate New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law – Section 1219 or the Amherst Town Ordinance – Section 166-4.
When a Town Highway vehicle is responsible for damaging a mailbox during a plowing event the Highway Department will replace the mailbox and/or post with a standard replacement. The Highway Department will not replace custom-built, ornamental or one piece plastic mailboxes. The Highway Department is not responsible for damage caused by snow that is discharged off the snowplow.
As was mentioned earlier weather conditions can alter how effective our response time will be. If there is a continuous heavy snow fall it will extend our cleanup time. If there is extremely cold weather the salt will not be as effective and the roads could be slippery for a longer period of time. If a traffic advisory is issued to limit travel or stay off the roads we ask that you please do so. It will allow the trucks the opportunity to clear the roads in a more timely fashion. The Town of Amherst uses on average 14,000 tons of salt per winter season. We are hopeful that updating the salting trucks with more modern technology will help us reduce the amount of salt that is currently used.
The Amherst Highway Department’s primary goal is to keep the roads in the Town safe, especially during snow or ice storms. The safety of everyone in our Town is very important and we will use all our available resources to provide the services our resident expect and deserve.