When a big snowstorm shuts down the Thruway and the Skyway, southbound and Buffalo-bound drivers head for the heart of Lackawanna.
The detoured motorists count on the intersection of South Park Avenue and Ridge Road, with the statues of Father Baker and his wards looking down from Our Lady of Victory Basilica, to remain open.
This task falls to Lackawanna Public Works Director Terrence Hannon, who is in charge of a snow-taming crew of 25 workers armed with equipment including seven plows and two payloaders.
"Even in the worst conditions, my crews can clean up in 16 hours," said Hannon. "They've got the reputation of being very good at removing snow."
Though Lackawanna is a small city, roughly 2 by 2.3 miles excluding the Bethlehem Steel property, Hannon and his crew are responsible for clearing 50 miles of roadway. There are more than 200 separate streets, from A Street to Wood Street, Sand Street to Gravel Street, Pear Avenue to Pearl Avenue. The nine Public Works vehicles tackle roads of different sizes, from 45-foot-wide highways to a couple of alleys -- Piggins and Florentine. The department also keeps bus shelters and crosswalks clear of wintry residue.
Lackawanna has purchased 1,600 tons of salt for the battle ahead.
But despite the best of preparations, sometimes snow commands the upper hand, closing down Lackawanna. But Hannon says such closings are never longer than several hours.
"There have been temporary traffic bans, for short periods," he said. "But I don't have to clear up as much as the City of Buffalo or Town of West Seneca."