Jefferson County and CDOT officials say snowplowing went well for the first snowfall of the year on Dec. 10, even though the departments are not fully staffed.
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Some residents on social media were less positive about their experience, concerned about icy roads that didn’t appear to have been sanded or plowed. Others who live in more remote areas of the foothills are upset they may no longer see plows when winter weather gets nasty.
While CDOT says it can move its fleet of snowplows as needed in Colorado depending on where the storm will hit to cover Interstate 70, U.S. 285 and Highway 74, Jeffco doesn’t have as much flexibility.
Because of a snowplow driving shortage, Jeffco has created a series of priorities on where drivers will plow first. For example, plows will not be on roads Jeffco-wide between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.
Mike Secary, director of Jeffco road & bridge, said the problem with the first storm wasn’t the plows but the warm temperatures that allowed the snow to melt and subsequently freeze. He explained that the county doesn’t lay down sand or other materials to combat ice because it’s expensive, and it doesn’t want to waste it if the storm doesn’t actually appear.
He noted that Jeffco plow drivers cover 3,600 miles of roads, and it takes time to get through entire routes.
“I wish I had a magic button, and all of the routes would be done (at one time),” he said.
Jeffco is short 34 drivers, and with 84 routes, it’s difficult to juggle, he said.
“It’s not my choice,” he said. “We don’t have enough people to keep a full deployment of trucks and graders working around the clock.”
For Jeffco, Highway 73 and school bus routes are the highest priority.
“I know folks aren’t going to be happy,” Secary said. “They have to be patient, and I’m sure we will get a lot of calls. We really are doing what we can.”
Both CDOT and Jeffco want to hire plow drivers. To apply to CDOT, visit codot.gov/projects/co-74-rockmitigation-jeffco. To apply to Jeffco, visit jeffco.us/jobs.
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