Winter is upon us, and that means the inevitable: snow. The good news, however, is that Suffolk County is more prepared than ever to handle what the weather throws our way.

In an effort to better serve our residents, I recently announced a $5 million investment to upgrade our fleet to improve road safety, better assist stranded motorists, and use less salt on the roads. And to protect the local taxpayer, nearly 40 percent will be funded through federal grants.

The upgrades include the purchase of 12 new 10-wheel Mack dump trucks equipped with wing plows. In addition to enhanced plow capabilities, these trucks are equipped with the functionality to pre-wet the salt as it is being spread onto the road. Rather than bouncing off the road surface or being cleared off by flowing traffic like rock salt, the pre-wetted salt clings to the pavement. This technique requires less salt, making it not only more effective, but environmentally friendly as well.

We also purchased three brand-new payloaders, fully funded by federal grants. Payloaders are a vital component of the snow removal operation because they can move large amounts of snow or salt over short periods of time without taking any plow off the road. To accompany these payloaders, we purchased snow blower attachments for each. They will strengthen our East End response efforts by helping to clear roads along vast open spaces like farmland that see significant snow drifting.

Additionally, earlier this year the county began the process of building a new salt barn along the Nicolls Road corridor, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The new facility will include a streamlined layout and increased capacity.

Not only are we focused on clearing and plowing the roads, we are focused on better assisting motorists. We have all seen motorists, during the height of a storm, becoming trapped or stuck. A stranded vehicle in the snow is a major safety risk, not only for the passengers in the car, but for our police officers as well.

In order to better assist stranded motorists, our police department has invested in four new power winches. These powered winches are the preferred method for removing stranded vehicles because they are not only more reliable, but greatly reduce the risk of damage to either vehicle during the towing process. We are committed to using safer, faster, more effective equipment.

Residents can rest assured that we are ready for any snowstorm in the new year, with new state-of-the-art equipment designed to improve safety and our responses.

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