Town of Huntington officials have unveiled the latest additions to their snow-fighting arsenal: 10 new and 10 refurbished dump trucks with plows and sanders; and four new pickup trucks with plows.
It’s part of a continued plan to overhaul and upgrade what was an antiquated department when highway Superintendent Pete Gunther took office in 2014.
“This is a step forward in rebuilding the whole highway department,” said Gunther at the Rofay Drive highway department headquarters unveiling, where he was joined Friday by Town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone, town Councilwoman Tracey Edwards and other town officials.
“We will continue with the truck replacement; my intent is to buy five more dump trucks with plows and sanders including a paint truck,” he said.
The department has 70 vehicles in its fleet, including the new and refurbished. The average age of the vehicles was 25 , which town officials said proved costlty due to down time and maintenance, because of frequent winter breakdowns.
The new trucks cost $2 million, and the pickup trucks cost about $144,000. Gunther said those trucks should have a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years.
The town board allocated $260,000 to refurbish the old trucks whose bodies were “completely rotted out” by salt. Gunther said they came in $18,000 under budget. The trucks were refurbished with stainless steel and “will buy another 12 to 15 more years to the life of the truck and service to Huntington,” Gunther said.
The vehicles were purchased between 2014 and this year, town officials said.
Since taking office, Gunther said he has methodically upgraded the department to bring it “into the 21st century.”
In the past year, upgrades have included a new phone system, making use of a Web-based and smartphone-based resident request management system, and joining Huntington@YourService, the town’s Internet-based system that gives residents a quick and easy way to send officials questions and seek information.
New this year is the installation of GPS on all highway department vehicles. Gunther said the department has 200 portable GPS units to provide to private plow contractors. All foremen have been given iPads to track their workers and have the ability to move equipment around immediately from the automated operations center, Gunther said.
“The town board salutes Pete and his hardworking staff,” Petrone said. “Together we’ve worked out a great system where we mobilize town workers for snow and for any type of emergency that deals with a massive approach on the highways.”
Gunther encouraged residents to aid the department during snow emergencies by removing cars and portable basketball hoops from streets.