By Shawn Mccarrick
Despite a moderate October, winter is coming, eventually. When it does, snow will undoubtedly come with it.
Snow in Camden presents challenges, just like any city. Cities have small, narrow streets and a lot of them.
The Department of Public Works in the city of Camden is responsible for all of the city owned roads, which equates to about 400 miles of road. Anthony Falconiero is the Assistant Director of Public Works at the department. He has been employed by the Department of Public Works for 35 years.
“Camden has the same challenges as most all other urban areas,” said Falconiero. “A lot of the older streets are small, and weren’t designed for automobile travel, let alone clearing of snow with large trucks and plows.”
The most frustrating streets according to Falconiero are the residential streets. These streets usually have parked cars on the side, which makes it even harder to maneuver and also presents a new challenge. The snow gets plowed into the parked cars and then residents come outside and clear their cars off, often throwing the snow back into the road.
“Many times it looks as if we never went down the street. Since the urban areas have little off street parking, cars are parked along the streets. Plowing in of vehicles is inevitable, and, unfortunately, people throwing the snow back into the street is also inevitable, and, I might add, illegal,” said Falconiero.
Joe Smith is a resident of Camden and has been for the last 29 years. He works as a security guard in the city. Smith lives in the downtown section of Camden.
“They’re the last ones to get cleared,” said Smith, referring to the side streets in the downtown sections of the city.
Neighborhoods like Parkside and Fairview are not usually prioritized according to Smith. He said that the main streets, streets like Broadway, Haddon avenue, Market street and Federal street, are cleared, but it can take a while for the side streets to be cleared as well.
The Department of Public Works building is an old, all brick building. It looks like it could have been an old schoolhouse. It has one big, blue sign on the front of the building that reads, “City of Camden Dept. of Public Works.”
“We have enough equipment, as long as it keeps running, to handle a normal storm,” said Falconiero. “Being an emergency operation, we are able to ‘do what we have to do’ so to speak, and worry about the funding later. Of course, it’s not carte blanche, we try to manage it.” What they really need, according to Falconiero, is people, not money.
“We really could use more people. Especially people with commercial driver licenses,” said Falconiero. He explains that during emergency storms, people get worn out easily. The department only has enough people to alternate 12 hour shifts. This means that crews are working 12 hours every 24 hours.
“We really should be able to work in a third crew, so that each shift of personnel would only have to come in every 12 hours out of every 36, instead of 12 out of every 24,” said Falconiero.
In preparation of winter, the department received a timely upgrade earlier this year when they got about 20 new vehicles. About 12 of the new vehicles are capable of snow removal, according to Falconiero. The equipment that the department uses ranges from the new vehicles to some equipment that is more than 30 years old.
This winter is forecasted to be stronger than last year. AccuWeather predicts frequent storms for the Northeast this winter. The Department of Public Works is ready.