Breckenridge struggles to keep up with snow removal
Summit Daily News
BRECKENRIDGE – It’s been a banner season for snowfall in Summit County, but the extra inches are causing frustration on the streets of Breckenridge as cuts made to snowplow services catch up with the town.
Sidewalks remain icy or sometimes closed altogether, road-side berms grow higher and some backstreets begin missing the sight of snowplows as the town heads into the two snowiest months of the winter season. The build-up has begun to cause impatience for some Breckenridge residents.
“I know we live in an alpine environment and I know we have a lot of snow,” local Dan Corwin told the town council at a meeting Tuesday. “But I think we need to take a look at how we (handle) it … Sidewalks this year have been extremely bad in terms of ice conditions … I think it’s something that needs to be addressed. As a world-class resort it really doesn’t portray (us) very well.”
But town officials say, though services were cut last winter, plowing has remained consistent this year, and it is increased snowfall causing the problems.
The roadways under Breckenridge’s plowing authority increased 20 percent from 2006 to this year, according to town spokeswoman Kim DiLallo, while personnel hours are down by 120 hours in the same time frame.
“We were at the Cadillac level in terms of service, but we’re back to say a Subaru level of service,” DiLallo said, using a favorite metaphor of town manager Tim Gagen. “When we go back and look at what we think is sustainable financially, those are some of the realities that have come about in trying to be fiscally responsible.”
The town has snowplow services 24 hours a day and seven days a week in the winter, but uses a swing shift system to reduce personnel hours from previous years.
Streets in Breckenridge are plowed by priority, with the main roads at the core of town and bus routes at the top of the list. Lower priority roads may be plowed only once during a snowstorm.
Ice, particularly on sidewalks with limited sun-exposure, is also a problem in Breckenridge.
Mayor John Warner recalled seeing a guest walking a steep sidewalk in penny loafers and agreed with Corwin that some sidewalks pose a safety risk.
“I do think our guests often times are not very well prepared for our environment,” Warner said at Tuesday’s meeting. “We’re never going to have ice-free sidewalks.”
Breckenridge includes 21 miles of sidewalks, two of which have been cut from regular snow removal, DiLallo said.
She said the town is always looking for new ways to manage the snow more efficiently.
“We don’t like to not remove snow and have bumpy streets,” DiLallo said. “But it is a fiscal reality and a result of where we live.”
The town encourages people to wear proper footwear and put snow tires on their vehicles.
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