Struggles snowplow drivers face in rural areas

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Walker Township, Centre County, Pa- Northeastern Centre County is one of the areas hit hardest in Central PA for both snow and sleet.

In that region, there’s a fair number of mountain roads and back roads with steep hills and tight turns. Both are treacherous for all drivers in heavy snow, including those driving the snowplows.

WTAJ spoke with Walker Township’s Assistant Roadmaster, James Heckman, to see how heavier snow impacts snowplow drivers in more rural areas.

Heckman said Tuesday afternoon that he had been out plowing since 2:30am that morning.

“We’re gonna finish up here and hopefully get enough salt down that when it turns to rain, these roads won’t be solid ice,” he said.

When WTAJ caught up with Heckman on his plow route, he was happy to be plowing a smaller and, more importantly, flat development street. Flat in comparison to Blue Ball Road.

“It’s a mountain road that you go down over the bank very quickly,” said Heckman who told of the hazards the road creates for snowplows.

“It’s very dangerous…. we’ve all had trucks slide off the side of the road up there,” he said.

The alternative to plowing the road would be to shut it down if it’s impassable. But that would mean it could take even longer to clear the road, especially with heavy snow.

“I would say we have 8-9 inches here…We’re trying to clear the roads off and put anti-skid down,” Heckman said.

He added that unless his truck has no traction, he’ll continue to be out driving the snowplow and clearing roads.

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