PennDOT Explains Storm Response after Travel Nightmare

SCRANTON, Pa. -- It's safe to say most of us had a rough start to winter, but Steve Vonbergen of Scranton says he's in the running for having one of the worst days. He pulled into the Sunoco station on Davis Street on a donut.

"Yeah, I don't know, just from spinning and spinning and spinning, the tire just popped right off the car, so, yeah, it was a pretty bad day yesterday."

Vonbergen was one of many drivers who got stuck in the November snow. Thousands were stranded on highways across the area and commutes that usually take minutes took hours.

"It was horrible, like, they weren't even out touching the roads or nothing, nothing was done with the roads. It was terrible. It's so aggravating."

"My best advice, if today was like yesterday, I would not be coming outside today. At all," said Nicole Dinardo.

Hindsight is 20/20 and that's PennDOT's perspective, too.

PennDOT officials say the timing of the storm hitting right around rush hour as well as the rate at which the snow fell -- sometimes a few inches an hour -- really hindered efforts to keep state roads clear.

PennDOT says that in some places, its trucks were tied up clearing the roads of vehicles instead of clearing the roads of snow.

PennDOT spokesperson James May says staff watched it all unfold inside the incident command center in Dunmore.

"Sometimes we could see that there were nine or ten trucks that were all stopped right there on the road," May said.

May says if PennDOT had known just how intense the storm would be, it likely would have banned tractor-trailers from interstates.

"It's easy for us, even me, to look back now and say, 'well, if we would have known two days ago that it was going to be this intense, coming down at this rate of snow, coming down at the time that it did, that it was going to be this intense of a storm.' Would we have put a truck ban in place earlier? Or on more roads? Probably."

For the drivers who had to abandon vehicles along the sides of roads during the height of the storm, police say if they are not moved by Friday night, they will eventually be towed.

37 comments

  • jimbo141

    Pa has sooo many excuses every snow storm. And channel 16 does nothing but blame the TRUCKS in every news story. Scranton Pa area averages about 50 inches of snow per year. Syracuse New York averages about 144 inches of snow per year and the roads are taken care of soooo much better upstate. Maybe James May should go up there and take some lessons on how the PROS move snow off roads……. I have drivin for 30 years and 3 million miles as a truck driver in the northeastern part of the United States…… Just my two cents….

  • lickerblisters

    Two days after the storm and the state roads in my area aren’t even edged off yet. Narrow paths if you will. Edging will take place today, (Saturday) mega overtime money for all. Disgusting!

  • sunnysomething

    Excuse after excuse. At 6:30 am I saw multiple plow trucks driving around, they weren’t even putting down pretreatment. Fast forward 9 hours, nothing was even plowed. We have a very high gas tax to pay for these services, and they are not being performed.

  • catman5308@yahoo.com

    JAIL ALL PENNDOT OFFICIALS NOW, THEIR INACTION ENDANGERS PEOPLES LIVES. THEY KNEW THIS STOTM WAS COMING, AND WHAT IT WOULD BRING. NEVER MIND COMMAND CENTERS, PRE TREAT ROADS, STAGE TRUCKS ALL OVER THE STATE, AND NOT MAKE B.S. EXCUSES!!!

  • Dirt Grub

    Something really needs to be done about Penndot. They are the definition of incompetence. It’s like they take the worst DMV employees and promote them to Penndot. There is NO excuse for this. We have the highest road tax in the US and the worst roads. Everytime it snows they stay in and drink hot cocoa and cause chaos. Their response is always “sorry we can’t make it into work today, it’s snowing and the roads are bad”

  • hollymolley

    We were aware of the storm and it,s time of arrival and intensity and total amounts. Seven to ten days earlier, Joe Bastardi had this all predicted. Check him out on weather bell, on his free site. Heck I’m sure that penndot can even subscribe to the paysite, it’s really inexpensive.

    • OleSoreToe (@olesoretoe1)

      Your type always want to fire someone. If it would have been a dusting, would you be calling for Joe’s head and complaining that PennDot for wasting your money because they were out treating roads that didn’t need it??
      Accuweather had it at a 3% chance of more than 4″ as of 14:00 on Thursday.
      Weatherbug had 5-8.
      Intelecast had 8-12
      Which Forecast would you suggest is used??!

  • jimbrony

    So kiddies, there’s a few lessons here for all of us. First off, don’t rely on the government to do anything correctly or in your best interests. Next, and this is a tough pill for some to swallow, have some personal accountability. Does your car have snow tires on it? The junk that passes for an all season tire isn’t suitable for the snow we just had. Our parents and grandparents got around OK in their day, and so do I. Sure, it means spending some money and taking some time to get them mounted and dismounted, but where are your priorities? Nobody blinks an eye at a $100/mo cell phone bill – but buy snow tires? I’m not saying PennDOT didn’t drop the ball on this one – but I am saying you have a responsibility for taking care of you. Don’t rely on someone else to do it.

    • Dirt Grub

      It’s not Penndots fault they couldn’t make it into work to plow the roads. It was snowing and the roads were terrible …wait

      • jimbrony

        Waah, the government didn’t help me. I’m a victim… God help us if our country ever gets invaded by hostiles – there are so many beta-males the air stinks of estrogen.

  • Edward Fish

    Stop with just blaming PennDot that’s only part of the problem these company’s and shops new the storm was coming and did nothing to let their people go early and then today look at how many people that are not from here and never drove in the snow before. Everybody has to have the same start and end time for the work day and causes all these traffic jams.

  • savescrantonhistory

    Your tax dollars at “work”. Same folks who get paid to stand around talking on road projects, which causes them to run over budget.

    • Bobby Jackson

      People should be prosecuted under RICO act, never gonna happen but if enough said enough is enough than just maybe.

    • Bobby Jackson

      Some of worst criminals among us come from dot, the most dangerous gang in America, police and kangaroo court system and don’t forget all politicians who believe they have moral authority to rule other others and steal there property, lock them in cages if people do not obey.

  • John Carlin

    Had a relative that used to work for PennDot the workers in the shed in Lenox next to 81 employee would joke about car accidents especially ones caused by snow and ice. The previous shift never prepared the trucks to go out when needed… He ended up quitting due to having to deal with not being able to do a job he was hired for… they are all Union workers….

  • just4fun1111

    This was forecast days ahead of time. They all said the evening commute would be terrible. Everyone got the message except PennDOT. I was surprised to see that the roads weren’t even pretreated. Poor job.

  • Granny4

    James May says staff watched it all unfold inside the incident command center in Dunmore. Maybe they should hs e been out in their trucks working instead of watching in the command center 😡

  • Ralph Turasky

    Yea Yea Yea.. Mr. May, You are the man of a million excuses, Every time Penn Dot drops the ball, which is Most all Storms. you make excuses, blame, forcasters, drivers, and whatever. Lets remember when interviewed by wnep 16 you stated, We got this. The Weather channel was pretty much right on with their prediction on this storm. I guess you don’t watch that channel. Face it Mr May You, Penn Dot, and the Goverors Office all dropped the ball. A state of Emergency should have been issued, truck bans in place, and proper planning ignitiated. Instead Impassable Roads, stuck vehicles, strandad commuters, and people put in danger. Penn Dot is still looking for drivers, proper planning couldn’t even have been achieved, tell us how many trucks didn’t have drivers, and how many sat in the yards undriven. But No Instead excuses, how about the truth Mr. May..

  • lickerblisters

    Don’t say you didn’t realize what the intensity of the storm was going to be Mr. May. WNEP was spot on! And gave several days advanced notice. Don’t blame the weatherman, BLAME YOURSELF!

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