Trash Trucks Plow Snow in New York

REAKDOWNS are a horror to Jerry Dellacorte.

As deputy commissioner for support operations at New York City's Department of Sanitation, he makes sure 5,600 pieces of equipment are ready to roll every day to move 13,000 tons of residential and industrial refuse, plus recyclable trash.

If the fleet doesn't roll, then the garbage starts piling up - fast.

The job gets even more complicated in the winter, as many of NYC's trash trucks must do double-duty as snowplows, clearing 6,000 miles of streets in blizzard conditions, and then turning around to pick up the trash the 7.5 million residents of NYC produce day in and day out.

"Some 2,000 rear-loader garbage trucks are equipped with plows in the winter," Dellacorte said. "We can't have a separate snowplow fleet because we can't afford to have equipment stagnate for six months, unused. It's too expensive."

Dellacorte's operation runs on a yearly budget of $900 million, with about $700 million devoted to equipment alone. The department spends roughly $80 million a year to buy new equipment and keeps about $24 million worth of parts close at hand.

The department's garbage trucks are on a seven-year replacement cycle and, despite the tough working conditions, have never experienced a catastrophic failure. Dellacorte sees this as proof that the support operation is doing its job when it comes to spec'ing, said Dellacorte.

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