It's about Snow Removal
January 05, 2007
Yesterday we had lovely sun, a light breeze and the beginning of the big melt. By yesterday night when I came home from work the snow and ice packed streets in my neighborhood had turned into a foot of slush. I almost got stuck in it.
And then the news - more snow on the way and more freezing temperatures. So picture this - snow packed roads turned into ice, with about another 8" of light fluffy snowy stuff. Good luck in not getting stuck, and oh by the way - don't get too surprised if you suddenly spin out of control as your car comes into contact with ice.
The Town of Erie's Mayor sent all us happy residents 2 emails to talk about Erie's snow removal program (or lack thereof.)
Here's an excerpt of the first one:
I know it is not too pleasant on our residential streets as the compacted ice/snow begins to melt leaving ruts. This situation is the same in Boulder and most other municipalities where things are very icy and very bumpy. So why aren't the plows back in clearing our residential roads? Unfortunately it is not that simple. Although plows have serviced each neighborhood, once the snow is compacted and ice sets they become virtually non-effective. It is similar to hand shoveling a driveway that has gone to ice. The ice sticks and is very hard to remove. Some have suggested bringing in graders and loaders. We could do this but the risk to damaging the roads, and the cost, make this an option only for high risk/safety areas. We could put chemicals across all of our streets but that has its own downside and also comes with a significant financial cost. Colorado is a state with a lot of sun and is set up to have Mother Nature do the work. Of course when you get two blizzards in two weeks and the Governor declares a state of emergency we know Mother Nature will take a bit longer than we are use to. A way to prevent this in the future is to have many plows ready for usage when the storms start so constant plowing can occur not only on our main roads but on our residential streets as well. In order to do this we would have to budget (and tax) for the extreme, rare event. We are fortunate that this much snow has not been seen in the Denver area since 1913.
And here's an excerpt from the 2nd email:
Our residential streets have started the melt off causing deeper ruts and a more challenging situation. Our plows were out today testing the efficiency of plowing the slush that has formed above the ice. The plows were not very effective as the blades would catch the ice below the slush and bend under.
Our crews are out working where they can and are placing sand on primary and secondary streets with focus being on school bus stops, intersections, hills, and curves. The crews will continue to deal with the ice and snow tomorrow and over the weekend if necessary.
Similar situations are occurring all over the front range in residential areas. As an example I saw a UPS truck in Boulder using chains.
Although the weather event was exceptional I am not satisfied with the overall capability of our response.
At the our Board of Trustee meeting next Tuesday (1/9) at 7:00 pm at Town Hall (645 Holbrook), I've asked for an assessment of the snow removal situation from our Town Manager and Director of Public Works. We will be transparent on what happened, what our capabilities are, and what our options/costs are to expand snow removal capacity in the future.
Most appear to realize the that we received more snow in December than we have in a century, truly causing a unique situation. Maybe there is not much more that can be done without significant taxpayer cost. Then again, I'm a believer most processes can be continually improved.
If you would like to listen in on this discussion, please attend our Board meeting next Tuesday.
And here is an interesting link about the history of snow removal.
Bring on the Sunshine!