VSEA member Justin Gibbs was just one of 30 Vermont AOT employees who were dispatched to Massachusetts to help clean up from a crippling winter storm that dropped as much as three feet of snow on the greater Boston metro area.
The warnings were out that a big winter storm was headed the Northeast’s way on February 9, and AOT Senior Maintenance Worker Justin Gibbs knew he would be busy for the next few days. What he didn’t know was that the majority of the roads that he and 30 of his AOT colleagues would be clearing for the next week would be in Massachusetts.
“My girlfriend had been in an accident earlier in the day, and I was actually at the hospital when I got the call, telling me to pack up my gear and be ready to leave for Massachusetts in two hours,” Gibbs told VSEA Communications Coordinator Doug Gibson. “I went home and got all my gear together, met a couple of guys at the shop, picked up a bucket loader and trailer and then we all drove to Dummerston to meet up with the others.”
Vermont State Police escorted the AOT’s 15 dump truck, 15 loader convoy the whole way to the Massachusetts border, where they were met by some Massachusetts Troopers, who took the convoy the rest of the way into Boston, where the workers were based for a week.
“It was pretty unreal to be escorted the whole way into Boston without having to stop at all,” said Gibbs, who is an eight-year AOT employee at the Middlesex Garage. “That’s how bad it was down there, and why it was so important for us to be there."
Officials from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MDT) greeted the convoy and allowed them to stage Vermont’s trucks and equipment in one of their lots. The Vermont AOT employees were then split into teams of five (five trucks and five loaders) and dispatched to some of the hardest hit sections of the greater Boston metro area. An MDT employee rode with each Vermont team for a little while to familiarize the crews with the roads and acquaint them with the areas.
Gibbs, whose first shift in Massachusetts went 26 hours straight, said the Vermont crews were treated very well by the MDT while in Boston.
“They bought us lunch every day and put us up in a hotel each night,” explained Gibbs, who added that it killed him to have to drive past the TD Garden Center on his route and not be able to go inside and watch his beloved Bruins. “They were playing one night, but I was working.”
Overall, Gibbs said his Massachusetts experience was a very positive one and he would do it all over again in a second. However, the trip did not change his opinion that no one does snow removal better than Vermont AOT employees.
“They don’t know much about piling snow, so we were able to teach them quite a bit,” laughed Gibbs. “Vermont wouldn’t have had any trouble with that snow.”
VSEA thanks all the AOT employees for their hard work and dedication. We agree with Justin that nobody does it better!