ELIZABETHTOWN — Local officials are hoping there won’t be response delays this winter when the State Department of Transportation’s Elizabethtown garage switches from its own 24-hour radio dispatch room to a regional center.
The “radio watch” was maintained for years at the DOT’s Essex County base in Elizabethtown so that personnel could quickly respond to any winter snow and ice emergency.
Now the state is switching to regional dispatch centers for DOT, and Essex County’s will be at State Police Troop G headquarters in Saratoga County, DOT Regional Engineer Michael Fayette said.
“That (radio watch) has been very valuable to me. Whenever we got any calls from any (town), the State Police, any other law-enforcement or the public about the conditions of the state roads and bridges in Essex County it allowed us to react accordingly.”
He said the Transportation Management Center will now get the calls. Only a handful of counties maintained a 24-hour radio watch, Fayette said.
“What is going to happen is, the State Police come across black ice or a snow and ice condition, they will call the TMC down in Saratoga and Saratoga will in turn call (us).”
That could cause delays, Fayette said, and he’s trying to find workarounds.
“For us it is a pretty significant change. I am going to have a conversation with the Sheriff’s Department and the State Police as to how they transmit what they normally would, to eventually make it to us, so that we can react to it in a way that doesn’t delay us any more than we absolutely have to.”
He said the radio watch is very important at this time of year.
“I always refer to certain things as having that warm blanket on a cold evening -- radio watch is that for me. It is very nice to have a human being on a phone that I can, wherever I am, call and find out what is going on, and that also works for law enforcement and the general public as well.”