Veteran plow driver Brett Larson gingerly maneuvers the plow wing into place as co-worker Ryan Walter attaches the arm to the body of Larson’s No. 10 plow truck Monday morning at the Auburn highway garage. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

AUBURN — The Auburn highway garage was a flurry of activity Monday morning as plow truck drivers and mechanics prepared the fleet for up to a foot of heavy snow expected from the nor’easter.

Veteran driver Brett Larson was working with younger drivers to attach plows and chains, fill their trucks with sand and salt brine, and ready their vehicles inside the giant garage on Gracelawn Road.

“It can get pretty tight on some of the side streets in town at times and we try to avoid (trouble), but once in a while we accidentally take out a mailbox, Larson said. “Not good at all, but pretty cool to watch them explode,” he said.

Larson was wiggling his wing blade into position as co-worker Ryan Walter helped on Larson’s pride and joy, the No. 10 International Workstar plow truck.

“It’s the best in the fleet,” Walter said.

As the two worked together, Larson gave pointers and passed on his knowledge. “He is meticulous about keeping it clean and maintained and everything in its proper place,” Walter said.


“I’m kinda OCD about it,” Larson acknowledged.

Walter tossed a giant wrench they were using onto the floor of the passenger side of the truck.

“Hey Ryan, can you please grab that again and toss it under the seat?” Larson said. “See what I mean? But I’d hate to have that hit me in the head if I ever rolled the truck over.”

Larson continued, “We all have our own sections of town we are responsible for each storm for the most part. Mine is about 25 miles in the New Auburn area, but by the time a storm like this is done we can each drive over 300 miles. We plow each street several times with the main roads getting treated every few hours.”

Auburn plow driver Ryan Walter helps fellow driver Brett Larson prepare his truck Monday morning at the city highway garage on Gracelawn Road. Up to a foot of snow is expected in parts of the state Monday and Tuesday. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The trucks are filled with salt at the beginning of a storm, along with a liquid salt brine applied to problem areas. Once the snow begins to pile up, the trucks return and fill up with a sand/salt mixture.

“The office staff uses the National Weather (Service) forecasts, but I rely on the local newscasters that seem to usually have a better idea of the timing and amounts here in Auburn,” Larson said as he jumped in his truck and grabbed the giant joystick to retract the plow blade.

The stick resembles what many pilots use to fly jets. Larson uses the stick and about half a dozen toggle switches on it to control most operations on the truck, including individual blades, sanding mechanisms and other vital functions — all without having to take his eyes off the road.

With the preparations complete, he and fellow drivers will head home to get some rest for what looks like a long night of plowing for is predicted to last well into Tuesday.

Auburn plow truck drivers Justin Bureau, foreground, and Phill Tapley attach chains on a plow truck Monday morning in the highway garage on Gracelawn Avenue. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

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