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PennDOT explains snow storm mess

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- PennDOT said given the circumstances, they're happy with the way they tackled the clean up from Thursday’s snow storm. It was the amount of unexpected snow, the major traffic all at once, and the number of tractor trailers on the roads that, ironically, led to the perfect storm.

On most roads, the snow has melted away. But Friday Mother Nature has left something behind.

“Yesterday was a mess,” Dale Good, Dauphin County Manager, said.

Stranded cars, messy roads, and a headache for some. The snow came down at 1-2 inches per hour.

“Even though we weren't planning for that heavy of snow, we were still prepared to be out there,” Good said. “We still had the same amount of trucks out there for the half inch-2 inches as we would've had out there for the 2 inches an hour or more."

So what happened? Many of Fox 43’s viewers reached out on Facebook asking, “where were they all day? They really dropped the ball,” and "how about treating the roads before it snows?" Turns out they did pre-treat.

“Ya know, it's a good tool,” Dave Rock, Asst. District Executive for Maintenance of PennDOT, said. “It’s not the cure all. It doesn't keep the snow from laying on the road it keeps it from bonding tight to the road.”

PennDOT has made it clear, they aren't blaming the forecast. But they said the weather over-performed. As soon as people realized how bad it was, everyone started getting out of work and school at the same time, causing the grid lock many people were stuck in.

“You take a route like I-83 in our area - it's almost at capacity on a nice sunny day,” Rock said. “Throw some snow and empty tractor trailers and hills in that mix, you've got a problem.”

He said their guys spent a lot of time moving trucks instead of treating roads, which slowed them down.

“The biggest problem was the hills,” Rudy Huggins, Asst. Highway Maintenance Manager of York County, said. “A lot of empty trucks were getting stuck. And they couldn't move. We've had to push a lot of them up the hills, and as soon as you got them up - you turn around and you had more stuck behind you.”

“We were absolutely prepared,” Rock said. “There's no time we weren't prepared. We had every truck out. We had them loaded. The guys were in before it started to snow. It only takes one or two vehicles on a route like 83 with a barrier in the middle that you don't get around.”

One of the tools PennDOT uses is 511 PA Connect. if you opt in to the system, you can report an emergency through your phone. On Thursday, 161 people opted in, and only 9 sent a message to PennDOT.