Our view: The road twice plowed | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: The road twice plowed

At issue:

County commissioners recently discussed their long-time policy of only plowing county roads once during heavy snow events.

Our view:

County leaders should be open to revisiting their plowing protocol and finding a way to make more than one pass on the county’s busiest roads.

In ski towns like Steamboat Springs, snow is a blessing, but it can also make life hard on the people who live here. Digging cars out after a heavy snowfall or traveling on snow-packed roads can be difficult, but Yampa Valley residents learn to deal with it.

Our view:

County leaders should be open to revisiting their plowing protocol and finding a way to make more than one pass on the county’s busiest roads.

With over 3 feet of snow falling in the Yampa Valley since Jan. 1 and more on the way, it’s a good time to praise the efforts of our local snow-removal crews, who earn new hero status with each winter storm. They work long hours under difficult circumstances to keep our roads passable, and they definitely deserve our thanks for their hard work and dedication to their jobs.

Routt County road crews are tasked with plowing more than 800 miles of roads during large, prolonged county-wide snow storms like the ones that hit the area in early January. This is a lot of territory to cover, and at times, it’s hard to keep up.

During this last storm, some rural residents found travel more difficult due the county’s adherence to a long-standing policy of plowing roads only once a day during big snow storms. After receiving a request from a constituent asking that the county plow roads more than once, Commissioner Cari Hermacinski raised the issue at a Jan. 9 Board of Routt County Commissioners meeting.

County Road and Bridge Janet Hruby explained that the county’s snow-plowing routes are 20 to 30 miles and designed to take just under eight hours to complete. She said on snow event days, road crews operate on one shift between 3 a.m. and noon, and there is not time for them to make another sweep of roads.

During the informal discussion, Hermacinski speculated about what might be required to increase the frequency of plowing on the the county’s busiest roads, and what roads might be likely candidates. This idea was met with some resistance from her fellow commissioners who believe the current system is working just fine.

We think county commissioners need to take a more open-minded approach and give the county’s snow-plowing strategy another look. We think those who live in our more populated areas of rural Routt County and are commuting to Steamboat for work and school deserve a more thoughtful response to their request for more frequent plowing than “we’ve always done it this way.”

We’d like to see the county study traffic volumes on its roads and find a way to plow the busier roads at least twice on heavy snow days. In particular, we’d suggest the county look at focusing on County Roads 14 and 129, which are the main routes to Stagecoach and North Routt.

We acknowledge that we do have a good system in place, which on most snow days works perfectly well. It also should be noted that people need to do their part as well by equipping their cars with good snow tires and giving themselves more time to travel to and from town when roads are icy or snow-covered.

Ultimately, as Routt County grows and there is more traffic on area roads, it’s important the county be flexible and open to revisiting its plowing protocol as needed. Janet Hruby capably heads up the Road and Bridge Department, and we have no doubt, under her leadership, that a creative solution could be found to provide a second pass on key arterial roads, like 14 and 129, during heavy snowstorms for the health and welfare of the residents living in the rural areas of our community.

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