Over five feet of snow has fallen on Erie, Pennsylvania, since Sunday evening, and the roads are a bit of a mess. But the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is working on that, and you can watch their efforts in real time.
Go to 511pa.com, home in on the Erie area, and click on the “plow trucks” filter, which will pull up every operating truck’s position, tracked by GPS. Around 11 a.m., that looked like this:
The maps can also show you were the trucks have been:
All of which is good to know if you’re wondering what routes might be passable, but it’s also fascinating in its own right. Plows to me always have somewhat of a mysterious quality about them; emerging from nowhere and disappearing back into the same. This map shows the order in the system.
Jill Harry, a spokeswoman for PennDOT, said that, currently, there are 55 trucks out doing a combination of salting and plowing major roads. That’s 17 trucks more than usually operate in Erie County, after additional trucks were sent in from neighboring counties.
Fifty-five trucks sounds like a lot for a county that’s about 1,000 square miles, but it’s just a fraction of PennDot’s fleet: statewide, PennDOT maintains around 2,250 trucks to tackle winter weather for the whole state—about 46 times the size of Erie. The average snow plow route is a round trip of 40 miles; they hit interstates and expressways first, before helping out on less busy streets.
As of Wednesday morning, there were still speed restrictions on portions of Interstates 79, 86 and 90, though restrictions on commercial traffic had been lifted. Be careful out there!