Snowplow inspections at DelDOT’s Middletown yard began Wednesday with 35 pieces of equipment being checked over before the winter season hits.


Snowplow inspections at DelDOT’s Middletown yard began Wednesday with 35 pieces of equipment being checked over before the winter season hits.

“We prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” said Delaware Department of Transportation’s Community Relations Officer Jim Westhoff.

This year, DelDOT has 500 employees to take part in snow removal operations, he said.

For a sixth year, Dennis Orlando Jr., of Dover, is one of them.

“We start as soon as the ground gets covered or if the road temperature goes below 32 degrees,” Orlando said.

His plow, a 2008 Sterling truck with all wheel drive, sported a blade for clearing straight roads Wednesday during inspection.

Orlando’s truck is one of 450 vehicles statewide for snow operations, Westhoff said.

Even in the worst conditions, these trucks hit the roads.

Two years ago when Delaware was hit by two back-to-back snowstorms, Orlando said that they worked for 16 days straight to clear the roads.

“Even a minor storm has us here at least 24 hours,” he said.

The conditions drivers work in vary.

It can be sunny or there could be zero visibility with white out conditions, Orlando said.

And the worst is in the dark, when he says that drivers are lucky if they can see their headlights.

Westhoff said that they like to keep it a step ahead of the weather.

“We stay ahead of the storm,” he said. “We get the roads pretreated to minimize accumulations.”

For that reason, the Middletown Yard has about 1,800 tons of salt stored. 

Statewide, DelDOT has 65,000 tons of salt stockpiled in 20 locations, Westhoff said.

There are 25 employees who work out of the Middletown facility; 19 equipment operators, two mechanics, two supervisors and an operation support specialist.

Delaware’s roads are divided into two categories to determine when they will be plowed.

Primary roads, such as I-95, Rt. 13 and Rt. 1, are the first to be treated, Westhoff said. Then secondary roads are plowed, starting with streets with the most regular traffic.