Snow Removal at BIA 

Wayne Harvey

It’s not only the roadways that need to be maintained during a snowstorm.The runway at Bangor International Airport needs to remain clear for travelers.As passengers who are heading off to warmer climates wait inside the terminal, a crew of 12 is outside on the runway making sure it’s safe to do so.”All plows, we’re gonna split the runway like we did last time,” cracked crew Supervisor Billy Landers through the radio in his vehicle. ” So I need a poly first and first pass scrape it.””This is easy,” said plow truck driver Mike Arel. “When you get ice it makes for a long day”It may be easy but it’s still the first major storm of the season, and keeping a two mile long, 200 foot wide runway clear for planes still has challenges.”Basically drifting, cause it’s so wide open,” said Arel. “The wind drifts the snow real easy. That’s why we have to constantly keep going over everything.”It takes two full trips up and down the runway for the six plows to clear the entire width of the runway, said Arel. “We stagger each other and follow each other until we have it totally clean the whole width after the storm is over then we’ll get fancy and start cleaning around the lights and cleaning behind them, but right now we’re just clearing right up to the lights.”It takes nearly a half hour to clear the runway, then crews clear the taxi area.Depending on how hard it’s snowing, they then head right back out onto the runway. “There isn’t really a specific amount of snow that would cause us to close the runway,” said BIA Director Rebecca Hupp. “I think visibility would be an issue blowing snow, certainly is more dangerous than regular snow and as I mentioned freezing rain and ice really is our top concern.”They keep going as long as the snow continues to fall, to keep the airport open day and night.”And we have clearance on the runway Mike, go right ahead and you can start up the center line,” said Landers through the radio as the crews started another pass.