Highway boss looks to restrict parking during snowstorms

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Snow shoveling brigade tackles a driveway on Marcy Avenue in Polish Town after last December's monster blizzard.

Riverhead Highway Superintendent George Woodson on Thursday asked the Town Board to pass a law prohibiting people from parking their cars on the roadside from 1-6 a.m. when snow is in the forecast, noting that Southampton Town already has such a prohibition.

The department’s job of keeping the roads navigable is only made harder with cars parked along the roads, he said during a Town Board work session.

As an example, he pointed to the monster snow storm that hit the area last Christmas shopping season and dumped over two feet of snow over eastern Long Island. Some roads didn’t get plowed for days after that blizzard, during which Riverhead workers had to tow about 200 cars, he said.

Having cars parked on the road during snowstorms also opens the highway department up to liability if the snow plows damage those cars, Mr. Woodson said.

“I’m trying to save us from getting sued,” he said.

“I can’t say I’m going to support ‘no parking’ on the road,” Supervisor Sean Walter said in response. “It’s almost unenforceable.”

Mr. Woodson said there are some roads in the town where cars are parked on both sides of the street and the snow plows can’t get through at all.

Mr. Woodson didn’t get any support from the rest of the board either.

“The house across the street from me has three cars parked on the street because they don’t have enough parking,” Councilman Jim Wooten said.

Board members also shot down Mr. Woodson’s suggestions about prohibiting rocks or pillars, as well as political signs, in the town right of way.

“We don’t want a police state,” Mr. Walter said.

The highway department had been prepared for any snowfall this weekend, Mr. Woodson said, unlike the unexpected dusting that occurred Tuesday morning. At that time, most of the trucks were being used for leaf pickup.

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