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As NYC’s first snow of season approaches, city sanitation is ready to try new tech

New York City's first snow of the season

New York City's first snow of the season may arrive this weekend, and the city's sanitation department is anxious to try out some new technology. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

The city’s snow conquerors have a new weapon to battle Mother Nature.

For the first time, about 700 salt spreaders have been outfitted with a navigation device known as Magellan that helps direct drivers as they make their way through city streets.

Salt trucks are viewed as the first line of defense in keeping the streets clear during a snowstorm.

“This is about the safety of the driver and the safety of the public,” said DSNY Chief Shari Pardini, director of the agency’s Operations Management Division. “We move our staff around the city as needed and quite often the driver may not be as familiar with an area. We are giving them directions for every single route in the city in the cab of the truck.”

Pardini said workers, especially newer hires, are “ecstatic” to have the navigator in their vehicles as they face their first snowstorm.

“This helps the driver be more efficient. Instead of fumbling with a route in your hand, they can concentrate on the roadway and what they are doing rather than where they are going,” Pardini said.

The forecast for this weekend calls for possible snow in the city; the DSNY has tested the navigation system and is ready to go.

Before a snowflake ever hits the ground, the city is preparing for winter storms. Last month, Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia announced the department enacted its winter staffing schedule to make sure there are enough workers on duty at night and in the early morning to clear snow.

The Sanitation Department, which has 6,400 sanitation workers, is responsible for clearing 19,000 lane miles of roadway in all five boroughs. Its snow-fighting arsenal includes 693 salt and sand spreaders, a stockpile of 300,000 tons of rock salt and 350,000 gallons of calcium chloride solution. The department can dispatch up to 2,300 vehicles to salt and clear roads.

“Sanitation workers are on the front lines of fighting winter storms, working long hours in whiteout conditions,” Garcia said. “This new technology makes it easier for our drivers to navigate their routes during snow fighting operations.”

It will feel like winter weather this weekend, as temperatures are expected to only go up to 44 degrees on Friday under cloudy skies. Snow is expected Saturday, although it’s unclear how much will fall in the city. Temps will stay in the 30s all day and night. The clouds part for a bit on Sunday, when the temperature climbs back to 42 degrees, with a low of 31.

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