Harrisburg residents angry as officials work to clear snow-buried roads

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- If it weren't for a path of boot treads up the middle of Penn Street in midtown Harrisburg, you would sink in snow to your knees.

Penn Street is arguably the worst of a handful of city streets still buried underneath feet of snow. They have been untouched by plows, which have been unable to maneuver through the narrow roads and alleys with cars blocked in the side.

"Yeah, I'm angry," said Troy Proctor, who lives on Penn Street and was forced to miss work the last two days after being unable to leave his street. "There was a warning telling us to move the cars out of the way. But where are you supposed to go? You tell me. There’s nothing there."

City officials are urging its residents to remain patient. Harrisburg began the weekend snow storm with 16 plow trucks. Three trucks broke down while plowing Saturday and two were repaired,  bringing the total back to 15. The city also has four front-end loaders, which will be needed to clear narrow streets like Penn. Outside help is also on the way coming Tuesday, as contractors will supply ten more front loader trucks which will help remove snow from the streets before dumping it onto City Island.

The travel ban on the city has been lifted, Mayor Eric Papenfuse said, while urging residents to stay off the roads to allow plows and city workers to continue to do their job. Crews are working 12-hour shifts.

"It’s a slow process but it’s a necessary process because there’s so much snow it literally has to be hauled off and moved away," Papenfuse said.

In Downtown Harrisburg, city plows are pushing mounds of snow off side streets into the middle of intersections. A front-end loader then picks up the snow and dumps it into a truck, which will then head over to City Island.

"You have to deal with loaders and heavy equipment," City Engineer Wayne Martin said. "Plows are useless in these situations."

Martin said the work is taxing, and is taking a toll on his men. They began clearing Downtown on Monday morning at 1 a.m., and will be working 12-hour shifts heading north. City streets may not be finished until the weekend, he said.

No deaths were reported as a result of the weekend storm, Fire Chief Brian Enterline said.