You may think government officials get preferential treatment when it comes to their own streets being plowed in winter, but apparently that's not the case in Lower Macungie Township.
Lower Macungie commissioner Brian Higgins nearly called township manager Bruce Fosselman to complain because his street still had not been plowed at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
At Thursday night's township meeting, Higgins said he finally dug out his driveway but "then, all of a sudden, I can't get out my driveway because they finally came and plowed."
Higgins said the township asks residents not to dig out their driveways "until the plow comes, because they're going to just plow you back in. But eventually you have to get out of your house."
He said township crews began plowing streets at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday.
What added to his frustration was another street in his neighborhood was completely cleaned by noon. "I get it. It's just a different plow guy. That's just the way it works."
Higgins wasn't the only township official who waited.
He wasn't complaining, but Fosselman said plows didn't get to the street where he lives until 3 p.m.Wednesday.
And Commissioner Jim Lancsek said his street was not plowed until 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Higgins acknowledged the frustration he faced is common and certainly not unique in Lower Macungie. He praised the job done by the township's snow removal crews.
Commissioner Ron Beitler called plowing 132 miles of township roads "a beast of a task."
Said Beitler: "There's always room for improvement, but at the end of the day there's a balance between getting the job done and reasonable expectations."
"This is the most snow we've had in over 11 years, and it's not over yet," said Higgins. "And with unseasonably cold weather, it's not going anywhere. It is an unusual circumstance."
Higgins also said icy or unplowed roads that residents complain about the most are owned by the state, not the township.
After the meeting, Fosselman said 50 percent of the complaints he's received were about state roads.
Commissioner Ryan Conrad suggested all state roads in Lower Macungie should be listed on the township's website to let residents know that "unfortunately, we're not responsible for those roads and here's a contact for PennDOT."
Higgins said on Monday he drove on Indian Creek Road between Cedar Crest Boulevard and Brookside Road at four miles an hour because "it was like it was never plowed. That's a state road."
Fosselman said the ice was so bad that the state had to use a grader on several state roads in the township.
Higgins said state police called the township building because there were so many accidents at the intersection of Buckeye and Brookside roads. "We said 'it's not our road, call PennDOT.' They finally did come out. But state police wouldn't leave the intersection until someone plowed it because it was so hazardous."
Lancsek indicated East Texas Road, another state road, also was very bad between Brookside and Lower Macungie roads.
Trucks were down
One reason township roads may not have been cleared faster is two township trucks used to plow snow were broken down this week, said Lancsek.
During their meeting, commissioners voted to purchase a new Mack dump truck with a 405 horsepower engine for $187,524. It will be used for plowing. "Based on the last storm we had, we need all that power to get that snow and ice," said Fosselman.
Fosselman said township trucks don't just plow a street once, but make four to six passes to make sure that street is clean.