Removal continues on Garfield County roads today

John Colson
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Garfield County road crews started out at 3 a.m., Monday, prepared for “staying out late” to deal with the recent heavy snowstorm, said one supervisor on Tuesday.

And the director of the county’s road and bridge department said late Tuesday that there likely were still some small, sparsely populated areas that road crews would get to for the first time today.

“Storms like this, it takes us a couple days to clean it up,” said Road and Bridge Director Marvin Stevens.

In the city of Glenwood Springs, streets crews struggled to keep up with the mounting snow, and some back streets still were clogged with ankle-deep powder by the end of the day on Tuesday.

Traffic throughout the region was significantly slowed by the storm’s effects, and the valley’s bus system was experiencing similar difficulties.

Kent Blackmer, operations director for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, said buses were running anywhere from a half-hour to an hour late starting on Monday night and continuing through much of Tuesday. By comparison, the Grand Valley Transit System serving Grand Junction shut down as of 10:30 a.m., Tuesday.

Occasionally buses ran into more serious difficulty, such as the four that got high-centered on Main Street in Carbondale after city crews plowed the accumulation into a central windrow, and had to be pulled free by RFTA’s sanding truck.

Blackmer said there were no other major difficulties, and that all routes were up and running throughout the storm period.

He reminded riders who take RFTA buses to Snowmass that, during heavy storms, the buses do not drop passengers when traveling up the road to the upper Village, because of difficulties in getting started again. Instead, the buses drop all passengers on the downhill run.

The Western Slope was hit with a major winter storm, dropping between one and two feet of snow in various parts of Garfield County by early Tuesday, with up to an additional seven inches expected by Tuesday night, according to weather reports.

While the county road crews were hard at work, Garfield County’s administration offices and courts took a snow day on Tuesday due to the difficult travel conditions. Offices were expected to reopen today.

Stevens said that 30 mile-per-hour winds and “white-out conditions” in some parts of the county have hampered snow-removal efforts on Tuesday.

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 were covering and recovering their routes in an effort to keep the roads open, even as the snow kept 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 on Tuesday.

He said he had roughly 40 drivers out, and that all of the county’s fleet of trucks were operating for most of the storm’s duration.

Streets superintendent Rick Turner, who was out with his crew wrestling with the snow all day Tuesday, said at 4 p.m. that day that he was “worn out.”

He said the regular crew of seven, supplemented by at least that many pulled from other city departments, started working at 3 a.m. on Tuesday – the day the bulk of the storm hit.

“Actually, it was just going over and over the same areas,” he recalled in a near-echo of the county experience. “We’ve pretty much got most of the streets open and clear.”

Some back streets, which he said probably had been plowed at least once, may look as though they have not.

“Our first priority is to keep the main routes open,” Turner emphasized, although the trucks also work to take at least one pass on every street and get sand down all over town.

But early on Tuesday, he said, sanding proved futile, as the snow would cover the sand immediately, so the effort was somewhat delayed.

He said his crews would be out at 3 a.m. today to start the clean up, and that as of 10 p.m. tonight a contractor will begin the process of removing the snow from the middle of Grand Avenue and the spots where it has been piled up.

A exemption from the city’s noise ordinance will permit him to work Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights using heavy equipment to clear away the piles, Turner explained.

If further cleanup is needed after that, he said, it will happen during the daytime.

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