Wilton Public Works ready for real snow

The first snow flurry of the fall came on Oct. 27, getting many mentally prepared for the winter that will come, but the Wilton Public Works Department had no worries. The department is already fully stocked for the year.

“Some predictions are for an above-normal level of snow this year. Public Works Director Tom Thurkettle already has the sand and salt shed well stocked. Our supply will take us far into the snow season,” First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice said Friday.

Thurkettle did not respond to several requests for information on amounts of sand and salt in stock, but last year he reported to The Bulletin that a normal winter’s worth of salt runs the town around $190,000, while sand comes in around $60,000.

There are almost 20 “plow routes” in town that run about 10 miles each — plowing both directions means trucks have to travel double that length per leg. The northern section of town often takes the longest because trucks have to refill salt and sand supplies back in the center of town.

Vanderslice is confident they will more than meet the challenge of what could be a worse winter than last year.

“Wilton is fortunate to have dedicated employees who do a fantastic job keeping our roads clear. They are on call 24/7, so they don't have personal flexibility during the snow season. There are no Florida vacation breaks for our drivers,” Vanderslice said.

In a storm situation they often work their regular day shift and are either called back later that night or in the wee hours of the morning to begin storm prep. The town has one crew, which means they stay in town throughout the storm event whether 10 or 24 hours.

“I was really impressed with their level of commitment during my first winter as first selectman,” Vanderslice said.

Though the exact mixture of salt and sand depends on the type of storm, salt is the most important commodity for keeping streets clean. As in the rest of southern Connecticut, most of Wilton’s roads involve steep inclines and declines that are made passable mostly by salt.

Some towns, like Ridgefield, no longer use salt.