Turkey day ice storm plucks PennDOT

| 28 Sep 2011 | 03:04

Milford - It was to be one of the heaviest travel days of the year and snow had been predicted, but the ice that followed on Thanksgiving snared motorists and PennDOT in Pike County. Snow showers came and went in the morning, but in the late afternoon, a second round of wintery mix, snow and rain, arrived and with it a coat of ice on the roads. “It was everywhere,” and lasted past 11 p.m., said a state police dispatcher. Pamela Chergotis was returning from Thanksgiving with family around 7 p.m., a passenger in a car making the westward climb on Route 6 outside Milford. But traffic came to a halt just east of the Sawkill and Raymondskill roads intersection. “We waited for about a half hour before my husband turned around and went back to the interstate. There were cars all over the shoulders and others using (the eastbound) shoulder to climb the hill. No one was controlling the traffic...There was a PennDOT sander truck stuck in the traffic with the rest of us,” she said. State police in Blooming Grove had plenty of work during the storm, reporting some 30 traffic collisions between 7 a.m. and midnight Thursday. “That doesn’t include disabled cars along the roadside,” the police dispatcher added. Only one of those accidents had reported injuries. Karen Winner, 48 of Milford and passengers Elissa West and Michael Noonan suffered moderate injuries when they collided with a vehicle driven by 57 year-old Stephanie Lazar, of Dingmans Ferry on State Route 2001 in Dingman Township. Police said Lazar had minor injuries. All four people involved wore seatbelts during the 7 p.m. accident. Fire companies all around the county were called out on 15 occasions for motor vehicle accidents during the day. “It was all a matter of timing and temperatures,” said PennDOT spokesman Mike Cotter. “Our people were out, but a major incident after a quick drop in temperatures effects our ability to respond,” he said. Cotter said the agency could not concentrate efforts either because the icing was widespread throughout the region. “We had the Scranton Expressway closed for a time. It wasn’t just Pike County,” he added. Still, Cotter said that PennDOT, which was broadly criticized for its storm responses last winter is ready now. “We believe we can adequately cover anything that mother nature throws at us,” he said. While they agency is still looking for “backups” for some positions, he said PennDOT is not suffering the staffing shortfall of last year. “There might be a few openings remaining,” he admitted. Doing the job continues to be learning experience. “Every year we learn something,” he said. Pike County’s deer harvest record year bear antlered deer antlerless deer 1993 105 1,543 2,209 1994 70 1,418 1,246 1995 82 2,011 1,723 1996 103 1,569 1,517 1997 82 1,847 2,040 1998 160 1,730 1,305 1999 73 2,122 1,390 2000 170 2,127 2,077 2001 177 2,259 2,628 2002 225 1,547 3,685 Source: PA Game Commission