WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published December 23, 2009, 10:17 PM

Snowplow Drivers Set to Work Christmas

Grand Forks streets workers and snowplow drivers with the DOT find themselves working Christmas due to the large snow system moving into the area.

By: Joel Porter, WDAZ

Snow is continuing to fall in Grand Forks.

And snow plow crews are gearing up for the worst of it, including Christmas Day.

Just like Clark Griswold, city snowplow drivers joke that they will be getting a Christmas bonus this year, they'll just have to work for it.

Both the city and the D-O-T will be running shifts around the clock even on Christmas, making sure roads are safe.

On one of the busiest travel days of the year, plow drivers are making sure people aren't just making it home for Christmas, but getting there safely. With more than a thousand highway miles in the district to monitor, state district engineer Les Noehre says they'll likely have to roll out the plows beginning at four a-m.

"We plan ahead as best we can for making sure all of our equipment and operators and all of those pieces are put together, but in the end we still have to react to what the weather does," District engineer Les Noehre said.

Grand Forks streets workers just finished laying a de-icing coat on all of the major roads in town, but superintendent Mark Aubol says once the thick snow starts to fall, they'll have the plows constantly running.

"There's going to be some areas where we can't let it sit and say we're going to get 18 inches with a 20 mile an hour wind behind it, that'll make some hellacious drifts that we wouldn't be able to move very easily," Grand Forks street superintendent Mark Aubol said.

While the majority of people are relaxing on Christmas day, street workers will be putting in ten hour shifts to stay ahead of the snow. Aubol says it comes with the territory.

"It's Christmas and it's time to be with family, ut there's a lot of people that are going to be out and about through town trying to get from one place to another and we have emergency services that are still going to be needed so we'll do the best we can to be out there to keep the streets open," Aubol said.

Both Aubol and Noehre admit it's not the easiest weekend of the year to work, but say with advanced warnings and a close eye on the radar, they can notify employees several days in advance.

"That way they can go home and make their plans and adjust accordingly and hopefully things skip us through part of Friday so they can enjoy it most of the day but we'll be working quite a bit of it," Aubol said.

"We have very dedicated people calling around, talking to everyone finding out what their plans are, specially for the weekend, they're all going to be here," Noehre said.

Aubol says if the forecasts are correct, he plans to run the plows through the entire city twice between Friday and Saturday.

Each pass takes about 12 hours.