As another frosty season looms ahead for Connecticut, the state has geared up to combat the approaching ice and snow.
Gov. Dannel Malloy and state Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker announced Friday that the state has provisioned the DOT with 114 new plow trucks, along with other supplies and support equipment to bolster its current fleet of snow- and ice-fighting vehicles. The new plow trucks will replace 114 old ones that have been identified as overdue for retirement. Both Malloy and Redeker stressed the importance of maintaining Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure over the winter, given the close relationship between the state’s economy and transportation networks.
“It’s great to finally retire the last Model T we had and see this new equipment,” Malloy said at a press conference Friday.
The state’s current fleet consists of 632 trucks, 275 of which need to be retired, according to a release from Malloy’s office. The state will auction a number of the retired trucks and keep others for spare parts. Along with the 114 new plow trucks, the DOT has also purchased two trucks dedicated to clearing the guideway for CTfastrak -— a bus rapid transit system that runs between Hartford and New Britain. This upcoming winter will be the first full winter season during which CTfastrak is operational.
Following the purchase, Connecticut’s winter fleet will include 634 trucks; 205 trucks operated by private contractors are also on call by the DOT in case the state’s plow crews require additional assistance.
The state allocates approximately $30 million each year for snow and ice removal, Redeker said.
He added that the state spent well above the $30 million allocation last winter, which had record-breaking cold and snow statistics, including the coldest February on record for many towns across the state.
Fred Campagna, senior meteorologist at WTNH-TV, told the News earlier this month that the odds of this winter being as severe as last winter are “pretty slim.”
Officials remarked on the cost-friendly nature of the new trucks. The DOT purchased each truck for about $150,000, approximately $32,000 less than each truck they replaced, Malloy said. With recently purchased tandem wing plows, the trucks can also efficiently clear more road space than the old trucks.
According to Malloy, these new trucks have been designed with the safety and comfort of the crews who operate them in mind. He said that before purchasing the trucks, the DOT consulted with the snowplow crews, adding that the comfort and safety of the crew contributes to the efficiency of clearing the roads.
A number of these new enhancements stem from an initiative Redeker led in 2011 to improve the state’s truck fleet, according to a statement from the governor’s office. During that time, Redeker had conversations with truck drivers to better discern the state of the DOT’s fleet.
Last January, Winter Storm Juno caused Malloy to declare a state of emergency, banning travel on state roads.