Road crews deserve heaps of praise

Lack of plowing angers many in Coatesville

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

UTMikeColLogo copyIt’s going to take some patience, common sense and, well, a bit of time for life to get back to normal here in Chester County, following an immense snowstorm that dumped two feet or more of snow around the county.

Schools and county government are closed Monday, as it has been almost impossible for local road crews to clear the volume of snow from area roadways. From the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to local municipalities, leaders are asking for patience — as weary road crews continue to work to clear area roadways.

A typical case in point comes from Downingtown Mayor Josh Maxwell, who noted his very hard-working DPW crews couldn’t get the streets of his borough clear Sunday, but not for lack of trying.

“I can say with confidence our employees tried hard to get every road in Downingtown plowed today, but unfortunately a few will have to be plowed in the morning,” Maxwell told his followers on Facebook.

And if they had trouble on the relatively flat and straight roads of Downingtown with one of the county’s best equipped public works departments, one can only imagine the difficulties being faced in municipalities in the more rural parts of the county, with many miles of winding roads, limited amounts of equipment and manpower. In many of these communities, township and borough workers have worked with next to no sleep, attempting to make roads safe for their residents.

The same is true for the county’s school districts — their building and grounds workers were on the job all weekend, and yet, many had trouble dealing with the sheer volume of snow on school campuses.

Between the volume of snow — plus problems with finding places to put it — and the issue of snow melt turning to ice in the overnight period into Monday, roads around the county were dicey at best. Between warming temperatures Monday and continued tireless work by road crews, it appeared that much of the county’s roadways would be back in full service by Tuesday.

And while it might have been frustrating for those who could not get out and make it to work Monday, local residents should pause for a moment and offer thanks to their local government officials and especially the road crews and public works employees who worked crazy hours over the weekend to try to clear roads and keep everyone safe.

Except in Coatesville.

Emergency route blocked

This street in Coatesville appears to be more typical than atypical, as multiple residents have sent us images showing unplowed or barely plowed streets in the city.

Multiple residents of the city have complained to us about the utter lack of plowing of the city’s streets have made parts of the city impassable. Other residents have reached out to us to explain that they cleared their roads themselves with snowblowers, because no city services came to plow.

“It looks like the Coatesville administration has abandoned its residents,” resident Tony Buck writes to us, sending a picture of unplowed roadways. “No road plowed since Friday night, even emergency routes like photo (attached, see left). No one can get to work.”

Some suggest that the long-time feud between City Council President Linda Lavender and now former DPW chief Don Wilkenson — a number of times the two had literal screaming matches during City Council meetings — has hampered the city’s ability to provide even basic services and worry that things could get worse before they get better this week.

Based on the photos sent to us, even main roadways in the city are unplowed and dangerous.

Worse, the city’s Web site crashed and appeared to be down, making it even tougher for residents to complain or get information.

If true — and the multiple photos sent to us by residents would seem to confirm it — something is deeply wrong with the governance of Coatesville.

* * *

I have to be honest: I hate snow. I didn’t encounter snow personally until I was 5 1/2, whisked away from my southern California home when my parents began a messy, nasty, multi-year process of splitting up. It literally snowed the first day I came east, Jan. 1, 1970, so I’m the kind of person who takes this weather personally.

So then it might not be surprising that I take a certain satisfaction in vanquishing and clearing snow. I am the master of the snow blower, I have a specific plan and technique to clear my longish, hilly driveway so my wife, a dentist, can get out to treat emergencies, even with big accumulations as we’ve seen this past weekend.

You can imagine my frustration, then, at being benched right now. On Jan. 6, I had spinal fusion surgery to replace a destroyed (post surgery, it was described as little more than mush) lumbar disc at L5/S1 — a problem that left me in profound pain for the last eight months of 2015. Now, I have enough titanium bling screwed into my spine to impress a rapper, and my body is trying to grow new bone to permanently fix the L5/S1 lumbar together. Oh, and I’m now a 1/2 inch taller.

I’m not allowed to lift any weights or do anything exceptionally strenuous for a while — it takes six to 12 weeks for the bone to grow and bond, according to my surgeon, Dr. Kenan Aksu, who performed the surgery for me at Brandywine Hospital. That means — and he stressed this when I saw him last week — no snow blower, no shoveling. Period. Strictly enforced by my wife, of course.

Now, I know for a lot of folks, this would be like getting a “get out of jail free” card. But, to be honest, it kind of drives me nuts. Yes, I have two very strong and healthy teenagers — both of whom seem to have a handle on the snowblower — but I’d rather be out there myself.

To all of you who have been digging out — here’s to staying warm and enjoying a nice warm cocoa (or other warming beverage). Spring (and summer) will come — stay safe and this, too, will pass.

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  1. The snow removal problem is the tip of the iceberg, part of the alleged corruption at the City of Coatesville that has an immediate effect on Coatesville residents and business owners.

  2. Janet Sell says:

    Someone needs to be help accountable for the road conditions in Coatesville. People have been stuck for hours and no one is helping.

  3. steve cane says:


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