Plowing through winter: How mild weather is impacting PennDOT, private plow drivers

Local

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — It appears as though old man winter has kicked the bucket — at least in central Pennsylvania.

There has been no major snowstorm this winter, saving PennDOT money, but leaving private plow drivers penniless.

“This time, in a normal season, we’d see a lot less salt than we do right here,” PennDOT spokesperson Mike Crochunis said.

Despite the sodium summits, the lack of white has let PennDOT stack the green.

“That’s been a good thing for us. So, we’ve basically been able to handle it in a couple of shifts, and that’s been helpful to our budget,” Crochunis said.

It’s also been helpful for housekeeping. PennDOT has been able to work through most of the winter, replacing pipes, sealing cracks and the big one: construction.

“On 83 where we’re widening, they’ve just been able to keep at it, keep at it, along with the 283 construction,” Crochunis said.

PennDOT’s plus has been a pain for private plow drivers.

“As much as I don’t like cold weather, we need it,” said Edward H Shull, owner of Shull’s Tree Service Inc.

He depends on plowing for 15-20% of his winter income.

“But this winter, our plows haven’t moved from this spot,” Shull said.

The money comes and goes, but Shull’s worried about long-term impacts.

“Global warming does have an effect. Our weather pattern is really changing,” Shull said.

He runs a tree business for the bulk of his income, and with the wet, mild conditions, he believes tree rotting and insects will also take a bite out of his bottom line.

“I’m afraid we’re going to be losing a lot of trees this year, and I’m a tree lover. I do whatever I can to make sure trees are saved,” Shull said.

A cold snap could be that savior, and if it happens, PennDOT said they’ll be ready.

“We don’t see any of that on the horizon, but we’re not out of it yet,” Shull said.

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