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County plows encounter ‘white-out conditions’ from storm

John ColsonPost Independent staff
John Gardner Post Independent
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Garfield County road crews have been out at 3 a.m. and “staying out late” since the snows began on Monday, according to one supervisor.The Western Slope has been hit with a major winter storm, dropping roughly a foot of snow in some parts of Garfield County by early Tuesday and with up to an additional seven inches expected by Tuesday night, according to weather reports.Road and Bridge Director Marvin Stevens said that 30 miles-per-hour winds and “white-out conditions” in some parts of the county have hampered snow-removal efforts.In fact, he said, around 6 a.m. on Tuesday he was forced to shut down the crews in parts of the western portion of the county for a while.”We had to shut the trucks down at one point, it was such a white-out they couldn’t see where they were at,” he said.In general, according to Stevens and supervisor Mike Prehm, the drivers are covering and recovering their routes in an effort to keep the roads open, even as the snow keeps piling up.”A lot of the roads, we’ve hit two or three times, and you can’t even tell,” Stevens said of the main roads throughout the county.He said he has roughly 40 drivers out, and that all of the county’s fleet of trucks is operating except for one.Stevens said the truck’s plow frame broke when the truck slid off the road while plowing and had to be towed out. The break was being welded back together at the county shop, he said, and was expected to be back at work on Tuesday.Stevens said that weather reports have indicated that this area will have “not as many storms, but worse,” than in the last couple of years.To prepare for that, he said, he canceled overtime for his workers over the summer to leave a good cushion for the early winter months of 2009, before the 2010 budget year begins.”We’ve got plenty of overtime money,” he said, adding that his department had not been hit with a lot of sick days due to the ongoing H1N1 Flu pandemic.”We kind of lucked out there,” he remarked.jcolson@postindependent.com


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