B&T Lends Suffolk Helping Hand After Nemo
It's not often a guy in a hard hat and construction vest gets treated like a conquering hero but there were plenty of cheers when residents in the Nemo-socked Suffolk County spotted a Bridges and Tunnels salt spreader, snow plow or tow truck roll by.
“It was like we were liberating a neighborhood,” said Bridges and Tunnels' Chief Maintenance Officer Pat Parisi. “People were coming out of their houses, watching and waving.”
Bridges and Tunnels responded to Governor Andrew Cuomo's call on Sunday morning, sending a total of 24 pieces of snow-fighting equipment and about 45 workers and 120 tons of deicer, to help dig out streets and highways 50-60 miles outside of its operating territory in Brookhaven, Huntington, Medford and Yaphank.
Operating in rotating shifts around the clock, some 16-17 hours long, the Bridges and Tunnels brigade plowed, salted and towed dozens of stuck vehicles, including a Suffolk County bus and a yellow school bus, from snow-clogged roadways.
Lieutenants, Sergeants and Officers from the Special Operations Division were also there to help the trucks navigate the side streets, stop traffic when a towing or plowing operation was underway and even help jump start cars with dead batteries. “Whatever we could do to help, we did,” said Director of Central Operations Daniel DeCrescenzo.
Some were pleasantly surprised to see the army of snow-fighting equipment sent from various transportation agencies around the state. “One of our contractors from Suffolk was shoveling in front of his house when he saw a convoy of B&T trucks led by a town truck go by,” Parisi said. “He emailed his boss, who said he must be wrong. It's too far outside their jurisdiction.”
Parisi said the contractor assured him he was not mistaken. “Hard to miss the distinctive yellow trucks with the blue MTA Bridges and Tunnels logo,” the contractor told him. Parisi said the supervisor emailed him, saying, “Awesome to see you guys helping out in Long Island, too.”
It's not the first time Bridges and Tunnels hit the road to lend a helping hand. During a blizzard in the mid-1980s, the agency sent a convoy of trucks and employees up to Buffalo and after Sandy sent equipment into Staten Island and the Rockaways to help remove debris.
“If we can help a neighbor, whether they live near one of our bridges or tunnels or as far away as Buffalo, we will,” said Bridges and Tunnels Vice President and Chief of Operations James Fortunato. “It's the right thing to do.”