Staffing woes prompt request to help plow drivers in Summit County as possibility for snow lingers this spring
After winter storms created hazardous road conditions last week, Summit County officials are urging residents and visitors to be more cautious and prepared in inclement weather.
During a Facebook Live event on Wednesday, April 13, Assistant County Manager Bentley Henderson joined Commissioner Josh Blanchard to talk about what the county’s road maintenance crews have seen this year.
The county’s road and bridge department staff maintains almost 300 miles of roads every year, Henderson said. It’s important for drivers to be aware of their surroundings during winter weather, especially as the county approaches spring — a time when officials say the public may have let their guards down.
Henderson encouraged drivers to provide distance behind snow plows and other road maintenance equipment when they encounter them on the road.
“This equipment is not like your car,” he said. “They can’t stop nearly as quickly. They handle and maneuver very differently, so give them a little bit of a break when you see them out on the road.”
Because of the high volume of roads that need to be plowed during winter weather, Henderson said it may take longer for people to see their roads cleared. People may have experienced even longer wait times this year because of staffing shortages.
The county starts by plowing highly trafficked roads like Swan Mountain Road and Dillon Dam Road. Then, crews move onto secondary streets and eventually the neighborhoods.
“We have to plow all of these roads, and we have to cover a lot of real estate at any given time during a storm,” Henderson explained.
Because of the amount of work involved in plowing the roads, Henderson said the county is often unable to remove piles of snow that are pushed onto driveways. While other municipalities may be able to move snow to the middle of the road, that often isn’t possible for the roads that the county is responsible for plowing.
“It’s just not feasible for Summit County with the staff that we have,” Henderson said.
Henderson also said it’s important for community members to remember to move their trash bins during a storm. Often the trash cans are in the way of the snow plows as they try to clear streets.
The county also publishes a schedule with approximate times for when snow plows go through neighborhoods, which people can find at SummitCountyCO.gov. Henderson said people should also visit the county’s website to sign up for SC Alert, which sends messages informing residents about emergencies and road closures throughout the county.
Even though spring is approaching, Blanchard and Henderson said it’s important for the community to be aware and prepared for winter weather.
“The weather is always unpredictable, and we always want to encourage our motorists to be prepared and always think about CDOT for travel conditions,” Blanchard said.
As with many organizations throughout the county, worker shortages continue to be a struggle for the road and bridge department, Henderson said. Whenever people are out or the county is short of staff, it affects the department’s ability to plow the roads.
Henderson said there are a number of positions open in road and bridge, which people can apply for on the county’s website.
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