Plowing snow a full-time job |

Plowing snow a full-time job

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” When the winter storms bring the snow over the mountains and the only place you want to be is in front of a warm fireplace, Colorado Department of Transportation crews push snow. Not even the worst snowstorms shake these guys.

“We don’t come out unless it’s bad out,” said junior foreman for Carbondale and Aspen, Les Stanton. “And then you’re driving in the worse possible conditions you can possibly imagine.”

Which, around here, is frequently.

While most people sleep, plow drivers from section 2 push snow to make the morning’s commute a smoother ride. Plow driver Philip Vanvalkenburg remembered that, while last winter may have been a blessing for area ski mountains with record snowfalls, it just meant more work for him and the crew.

“It seemed like December was a good month of snow,” he said. “We were out a lot of weekends throughout the month, and it seemed like it would snow, then it would give you a little break, and then it would snow again.”

Shifts are staggered to allow three drivers patrolling at all times, 24 hours-a-day during a snowstorm, according to senior foreman for section 2, D’Wayne Gaymon.

Section 2 in Glenwood Springs, has a 41-person crew, which covers 703 lane miles of road from east of the Glenwood Canyon to the west of Rifle, and south through the Roaring Fork Valley to include Independence Pass and highway 133 to McClure Pass. A lane mile counts the length of road multiplied by the number of lanes.

According to CDOT spokeswoman Nancy Shanks, section 2 crews plowed 153,539 total lane miles, sprayed 1,088,646 gallons of magnesium chloride (de-icer), spread 5,012 tons of salt/sand, and spread 1,086 tons of ice slicer. In addition, crews expended 457 hours of ice control, 1,755 hours of specialized snow removal with special equipment including the rest areas at Grizzly Creek, No Name, and Hanging Lake. The winter budget for the area last year was $1,800,523.

And Vanvalkenburg expects this year to be similar to last in terms of time spent plowing. But that’s all right with him, he’d rather be pushing snow anyway.

“We are out there for them, you know,” Vanvalkenburg said. “We are not trying to be a hindrance, we are just trying to get the snow off the road.”

He reminded, for motorists, that patience is an important thing when you see a plow.

“Just try and be a little patient,” he said. “We try to be courteous to them and at the same time we are just trying to do our job.”

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