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County details winter plowing policy, procedures

In preparation for the upcoming snow season, the Archuleta County Road and Bridge Department provides the following information to the public regarding snow removal operations.

Archuleta County Road and Bridge plows approximately 340 miles of roads.

County roads are categorized on a priority basis and the roads with the higher priorities are plowed first — such as school bus routes. Remaining roads are plowed based on priority and route efficiencies. Both Primary and Secondary roads will be plowed.

Although snow removal crews normally begin clearing the roads at 2 a.m., some of the lower priority roads may not be cleared the day of the storm.

Hills are sanded for safety as required.

Normal circumstance

Typically, plowing operations begin when there is snowfall accumulation in excess of 4 inches.

Days without snow, crews will clean up and push back snow routes as needed. All roads may not receive attention on those days.

On regular working days plowing operations typically begin at 2 a.m.

Weekends and extended shift plowing may take place under the direction of the Road and Bridge Superintendent.

Extreme circumstances

County roads may not receive same day snow removal. First priority roads will be plowed and kept open on extreme snow days.

Lower priority roads may not receive attention on those days.

Usually there are two separate snow removal operations:

1. The first is during the storm itself and consists of passes with the plows to keep the roads open. This includes clearing a path sufficient for two vehicles to pass. It also includes clearing cul-de-sacs enough to allow a vehicle to turn around.

2. The second operation begins when the storm subsides. It consists of widening the traveled portion of the road, pushing snow back and plowing out wide spots on the roadways. It may be several days between the first plowing and final cleanup.

Unfortunately, each operation may result in a berm of snow across private driveways or encroachments to county roads. The county does not have the resources to keep driveways clear. This is the responsibility of each individual resident or business. Reasonable effort is made to plow in a manner that will minimize the snow that is left.

Property owners who create hazards in a public right of way, e.g., plowing snow off private drives, piling construction materials or timber, or placing trash carts, may be subject to prosecution under C.R.S. §43-5-301. A property owner may also be liable for any injury attributable to a hazard or the removal of a hazard she or he has created in a public right of way. Vehicle owners and property owners who leave vehicles in a public right of way are likewise subject to prosecution and vehicle impoundment.

Safety concerns

Kids playing in the snow banks left by the snow plow equipment, building snow caves and forts. This is a major concern for the safety of the kids. As you know these machines are big and they can move an enormous amount of snow. Snow removal equipment can be moving and pushing snow banks back at any time; with kids playing in the snow banks, it spells disaster.

Roadside parking

Is prohibited along all county roads and within any county road right-of-way. Roadside parking inhibits thorough plowing, and vehicles will be towed without notice.

Private plowing

It is unlawful for any person to deposit snow plowed from a private driveway, road or any other source, on to any county road or right of way per Colorado Revised Statue §43-5-301. Homeowners and contractors are advised not to push snow across a county road at any time.

Trash carts

Trash carts should be placed in the driveway, a minimum of five feet behind the front of the snow berm to minimize the possibility of being knocked over. Trash carts that are knocked over are not the responsibility of the county.

Snow driving safety

1. Slow down and use caution around snow removal equipment.

2. Safe following distances behind the plow help you to avoid flying snow and sanding material.

3. Stay out of the vehicle’s blind spots.

4. Turn your headlights on.

5. Flashing blue lights on a truck indicate an emergency vehicle and it is illegal to pass.

This story was posted on November 14, 2012.