© 2023 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Buffalo Public Works: Let it snow. We're ready to go.

Mike Desmond

With a light snow falling outside City Hall on Tuesday - and more to come - the Common Council approved this year's version of a snow plan.

City Public Works Commissioner Steven Stepniak said the plan had to be changed to reflect major development in many parts of the city.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Salt is at the ready in Buffalo Broadway Public Works barn.

"Because you have a lot of different parking schemes when you develop. You have accessibility issues that you have to deal with. You have places that are clearing out snow and looking for places to put it because they have bigger parking lots or more people are working in those areas," he said. "So it's good things and we're able to adjust accordingly. Again, we work with the business community on doing things different, what works for them and I think we get the job done."

Clearly, the elemental proposition is to plow the streets. Tuesday night, there were lots of plows poised outside the Broadway Barn, with a giant salt pile of fall ready inside to be loaded, as trucks use what they can carry and come back for refills.

Stepniak said it's still a driver and a plow on the street, but today it's a cyber-plow.

"Now, with the GPS and tracking monitoring systems you have, it's real easy to give information from shift to shift, what's been completed, where you have to be, how many times you have been down that individual street," Stepniak said. "So the tech has really helped a lot in efficiency."

Stepniak said there have been other changes, including some smaller plows to get down some of the city's narrower streets, especially on the West Side.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"While vehicles are helpful and there's a big timing thing, our foreman are very educated. Some of our foremen are from the West Side, so they know the timing on getting into those streets, in and out quickly, to help get them cleared," he said. "You have to be a little concerned on the West Side, about plowing people in. You have to allow people off their streets, so you can go in attack it. It's an issue that goes back and forth sometimes, but we work well with the community and everybody seems to be moving their cars when they are supposed to."

He said there can be as many as 100 plows of various sizes out there, but most plowing is done by a core group of 40 trucks, including new trucks purchased this year.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.