LEWIS — Essex County will save thousands annually by switching to one-person snowplow crews in the winter.
One of the cost-saving recommendations from the County Board of Supervisors Budget Subcommittee was to utilize one-person snowplow truck crews, instead of two, whenever possible.
It became reality this week, when Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) successfully moved a resolution at a budget session to make the change.
The vote was 16-2, with only Supervisors Sharon Boisen (I-Essex) and Gerald Morrow (D-Chesterfield) opposed. Both said they had safety concerns.
Douglas said the switch will save about $16,000 a year in overtime wages that had been paid to the wingman in the truck.
County Department of Public Works Superintendent Anthony LaVigne said that in times of heavy snow or on twisty roads they will still use two people in a truck: a driver and wingman.
LaVigne said he supports the change.
He said they will still be paying the same number of workers, but the wingman was on overtime for plowing.
The State Department of Transportation has already switched to one-person operation of snowplow trucks.
In addition to driving, the DOT’s plow operators are also responsible for control of the front plow blade, side plow wings and material application to the road, which includes both rock salt and ice-melting liquids.
Before the one-person plowing starts in Essex County, officials said, some plow controls may have to be relocated to make them accessible to the driver.
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