Hartland residents can expect a letter from their highway department this week in which the hours and order of roads the department will be plowing in case of heavy snow are documented.
New this year is a COVID-19 emergency plan which will be implemented should the highway department be “overrun” with the virus.
Highway Superintendent Keith Hurtgam said there are five trucks in the highway garage and seven workers, plus part-time help. If COVID-19 does spread through the department – forcing drivers to stay at home – neighboring towns will help pick up the extra routes.
“I hope we never use it,” Hurtgam said. “But we had to have some plan in place.”
Hurtgam explained that it’s a two-way street where his department will also help out nearby towns if they have an outbreak.
“If Newfane or Somerset were hit, we’d do those,” he said. “All the towns in the county have signed on, but the towns next to each other will help take care of each other, unless there’s a real situation.”
Director Garret Meal of Niagara County Department of Public Works said it would draw from its resources across the county in case of an outbreak of COVID-19 in any of the highway departments in any of the towns.
“We all work together,” Meal said. “There is agreements in place that allow us to do that where we’re allowed to accommodate equipment and workers. It’s called a shared service agreement.”
Should there be a COVID-19 crisis and snowfall, roads like Route 148, Drum Road, Johnson Creek Road and Route 104, which bear the heaviest traffic, will be plowed first, said Hurtgam. Because of this some residents may have to drive on unplowed roads for a short period of time before coming to a major artery.
Side roads will be opened after the main roads as it can be worked into the schedule.
“The plan would take effect, not only if Hartland got COVID-19, but also if one of the surrounding towns got COVID-19 as well. We would help them out and Hartland’s roads would be plowed on the COVID-19 route plan as well,” said the letter.
The letter also urged residents to “not go out during or immediately after a snowstorm unless it is truly necessary.”