Thursday, March 06, 2014
Discussion With AHTD
I spoke with Public Information Officer, Randy Ort, of AHTD today. I gathered that the problems that were seen following Sunday's winter storm are not being ignored. They heard your complaints. A few people have commented to me that once the roads dry and the sunshine returns, AHTD will forget about these problems. I do not think that will happen. They have a meeting planned for next week with the Arkansas Road Commission regarding the complaints. They also have meetings with members of the legislature. In addition, Governor Beebe is asking for some answers.
I was told that AHTD are planning to update their snow and ice removal plan. They have met with other states to discover methods, equipment, and procedures that they can incorporate into the plan in Arkansas. A new plan is coming soon.
Many of these same questions were raised earlier this season when AHTD was criticized for poor performance in December. This press release from December is worth reading: CLICK HERE. I would fully expect to see a similar press release following next week's meetings.
The only thing that concerned me about the discussion today was the distribution of the brand new belly plows. The state has purchased 6 new belly plows over the past year. According to AHTD:
"The new trucks are larger and heavier and have a plow blade mounted under the body of the truck, between the front and rear axles. The weight of the truck allows downward pressure to be placed on the blade, making it more effective in battling ice"
Out of the 6 new trucks, 5 are based in Harrison, AR and 1 in Little Rock. None are based in Northeast Arkansas. That seems odd to me. I asked why 5 are based in Harrison and Ort tells me that the engineer in Harrison has been very proactive in investigating new methods to improve snow and ice removal. I think District 10 (Northeast AR) needs some of this new equipment.
Overall, I think they are actively looking to improve. They admit that they "got behind the storm" this time. They do not like seeing Google Traffic Maps that show traffic immediately improving at the state line. They are not sitting around waiting for this to blow over.
As residents of the state, I say we forgive them and hope they improve before the next winter storm. The time has come for a change and I get the feeling that it will come.
Have a good night,
Posted By: Ryan at 5:51 PM