LACKAWANNA COUNTY — With more cold, winter weather on the way, PennDOT is getting ready.
Before the end of the day Lackawanna county salt sheds will be filled with almost 800 tons of extra rock salt, just in time for the storm expected Sunday night.
PennDOT officials say they were owed all that salt from a salt mine in upstate New York.
Since the winter’s been tough on us all, it’s been tough for PennDOT to get salt on time. On Friday, workers took matters into their own hands.
If you drove past the Fleetville/Tompkinsville exit on Interstate 81 you may have seen a blur of yellow, as one by one, more than two dozen PennDOT trucks got in line. The trucks have a capacity for 400 tons of rock salt, and probably an unimaginable amount of miles from this long winter.
Drivers left in a convoy, starting a four-hour trip to upstate New York to claim rock salt PennDOT has been owed since December.
“About four hours, it’s 192 miles, I’ve been up there before. But not with PennDOT, it was with a private company,” said PennDOT highway supervisor George Yontas.
Twice in 24 hours, the trucks made the trek from Fleetville all the way to the Rochester area and then they have a quick turnaround. The goal is to be unloading at salt sheds back in Lackawanna County at the end of a 12-hour shift.
“It’s something different, it’s a break from the normal driving around patching potholes and plowing roads. It’s been a long winter,” said driver Andrew Mroczka.
It’s been a long winter for PennDOT, officials say, because many of their rock salt orders have been back-ordered. So crews decided to hit the road themselves and take what’s theirs. Looking more like Humvees on I-81 the big yellow plow trucks traveled in a line, headed for the Empire State.
“Like a big convoy, like those old 70s movies you used to see. Smokey and the Bandit!”
PennDOT officials say this is the first time they’ve done a trip like this. They say the nearly 800 tons of salt they’ll collect in upstate New York is just a reserve for the rest of the winter that, hopefully, is almost over but,
“Who knows, who knows what the weather’s going to bring.”
If you think that the trip those drivers took seems like a long day at work, the drivers say tomorrow won’t be easy either. After they return, the drivers will have to put the plows back on those 26 trucks in time for the storm expected later Sunday into Monday.