Dashing through the snow

The Spotlight takes a ride in a snowplow in Colonie

Waking at 2 a.m. and then working for the next 14 hours is not a regular workday for most, but it is the life of a snow plow driver.

When I arrived on a recent January morning to ride along on one of the plows, the employees of the Colonie Division of Highway Department had been working since 3 a.m. The town had seen about 8 inches of snow fall overnight, but it's the Highway Department's job to make sure residents can drive on the 318 miles of road in town no matter what the Northeast winters dish out.

It's a coastal storm, Ryan Buff, one of the four supervisors of the operation, said. "The eye of the storm may have passed us but other snow might be wrapping around towards us."

Ready to roll

The driver I will be riding along with, Ed, who asked that his last name not be revealed, said piloting the massive trucks is actually a simple job, and it's one that, after 20 plus years, can seem monotonous. However, he said, he could understand that if you're new to it, the work could appear to be interesting.

"At the end of the day, it's just like anything else," he said. "Either you have a knack for it or you don't."

As we get ready to head out in the plow, my first obstacle is getting into the passenger side of the vehicle. At 8 a.m., Ed had already made a few trips through his route, so the wing plow was covered in snow. I have to climb over the plow, being sure not to slip and hit my head on the metal stairs or the plow itself, and then grab a rail and pull myself up on to the snow covered steps.

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