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When snow hits the streets, the plows start rolling, and at NAS Patuxent River, the roads snow plows clear first depends on preset priority levels.

“When the snow accumulates to 1 inch, the contractors are out clearing priority one areas,” said contract supervisor Al Santini, NAS Patuxent River Public Works Department.

Currently, priority one areas include the main thoroughfares, Cedar Point and Buse roads, portions of Shaw Road near Gate Three, and some parking lots.

The other roads, parking lots and the air field are considered priority two.

The air field used to be a higher priority, Santini said, but if it’s snowing out and there’s that much snow on the airfield, they can’t fly anyway. And Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 4 usually leaves before a snow event.

With snow removal at Pax being a performance-based contract, Santini said that other than designating the priority levels, the base tries not to be too prescriptive on how the contractors accomplish this task.

“Once the contractors feel they have a good handle on priority one areas, they move on to clearing priority two areas,” he said. “If only a couple of inches gets dumped, they’ll get to priority twos sooner, but if we have continuous snow or a significant amount [4 or more inches] it could take longer to get priory one areas under control. Add traffic to the mix and it could take six to eight hours before they get to priority two areas.”

With a growing base, Santini looks forward to reviewing the priority areas and possibly having some reassigned.

“During the last snow events we’ve noticed things have changed and it’s time to make sense of it all,” he said. “There are new buildings and a lot more activity happening in certain areas.”

For example, according to the current priority map, the clinic area and the area around the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) hangar are considered priority two, but because of the traffic in these areas, Santini hopes they can be changed to priority one.

“We’re missing the simple things,” he said. “We need to look at what we have done, where the new buildings are going up, and see if there’s a better path to get to them. Some paths don’t need to be priority one anymore.”

Because everyone’s mission is important, Santini said tenants will be consulted before any changes are made.