NY DOT commissioner addresses storm preparedness

Sep 29, 2015

The new commissioner of New York State's Department of Transportation says one can never prepare too early for a weather-related emergency. He was in Buffalo speaking to a room filled with transportation and emergency response officials, who are already looking ahead to the arrival of winter storms.

Matthew Driscoll, appointed to the DOT post by Governor Cuomo in April, says he wants to have a response plan in place up to three days in advance when storms are forecasted. Emergency responders at the county level, he noted, are being equipped with technology to help them with real-time weather information, through the governor's NY Responds program announced this past summer.

A roomful of transportation and emergency response officials listen to New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew Driscoll during a two-day conference held in downtown Buffalo. The meeting, which covered emergency response issues including weather and border concerns, wrapped up Tuesday afternoon.
Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO

He is also taking steps to figure out just what number of personnel and resources he can work with in the event of an emergency anywhere in the state.

"We're doing a complete inventory of assets and people across the state," Driscoll said. "And we want to remain nimble, so when we know a storm may hit Western New York, or the Hudson Region, or Long Island, or Central New York, we're going to be in a position in advance to make decisions that are well thought out and get additional assets on the ground."

Also new to Driscoll is a cooperation with the Thruway Authority. He explained that earlier this month he co-signed a memorandum of understanding for Thruway officials and the DOT to share people and vehicles in weather-related emergencies for up to ten days.

As a former mayor of Syracuse, Driscoll has seen his share of snowstorms. He wants to be sure his department and its resources are well-prepared to mobilize, and not just on the eve of an anticipated storm.

"I want to make sure that when we know an event is coming, that we are feet-on-the-ground well in advance of a particular storm."