Last week's winter storm made headlines, made commuting in the valley difficult, and forced the Aspen School District to close schools two days in a row. If you didn't stay home during the storm, hopefully you were on the hill playing in it.
Many places shut down during snow storms like that one, and many more make sure they hit the slopes. However, there are a few that get to work to clear the walkways and roadways all of us depend on. The Town of Snowmass Village’s road crews and police officers are among these workers, and they have been putting in extra hours over the past week to keep people moving safely – but it isn’t easy.
Accidents on both Brush Creek and Owl Creek Roads are common during major snow storms, and Snowmass Village Police are usually inundated with accident and assistance calls. During accidents, traffic is sometimes diverted to other roads, causing major traffic backups throughout the Village. According to the Snowmass Village Police Chief, accidents are usually due to drivers traveling to fast for the winding and icy roads. “Snowmass Village Police work hard to keep traffic moving and safe during accidents, but drivers need to do their part too. Take slow, give yourself extra space between vehicles, and make sure you’re prepared for the conditions,” said Brian Olson, the Snowmass Village Police Chief.
To be prepared for winter driving conditions, the Snowmass Village Police Department and Public Works offered the following recommendations:
- Thoroughly clean snow and ice from your windshield, windows, mirrors, and lights before driving.
- Make sure you have plenty of de-icer windshield wiper fluid.
- Approach intersections slowly, and double check for traffic before pulling out into an intersection or roadway.
- Never crowd the plow. Give them space to work.
- Don’t tailgate other vehicles. Allow for plenty of space between vehicles in case traffic slows or comes to a stop.
- Make sure your vehicle is equipped with adequate snow tires with a certified winter rating.
Snowmass Village puts a chain law into effect during major snow storms, which requires all vehicles to have adequate snow tires or chains before driving in Town. Chain laws are announced through Pitkin Alert, VMS roadway signs, Grassroots TV, and on the Town’s social media pages.
Meanwhile, The Town’s fleet of snow fighting equipment is readied and dispatched as soon as snow is forecasted. The Road Division crew consists of six operators who are scheduled to cover shifts 5:30am to 10:30pm, seven days a week.
Snow removal typically begins in the early hours of the morning, and it takes place in three tiers of priorities. First, operators plow and spot sand major arterial roadways, including: Brush Creek Road, Owl Creek Road, Highline Road, and Carriage Way. Second, major collector streets, such as Wood Road and Faraway Road, are plowed. Lastly, crews begin clearing residential streets and parking lots. Not all residential streets can be plowed at the same time, however, and according to the Town’s Snow Removal Plan, the road crews try to hit the streets that need them the most first. North facing streets in higher subdivisions typically accumulate more snow, requiring subdivisions such as Ridge Run being plowed before subdivisions like Melton Ranch.
You can view the Town’s complete snow plan and frequently asked questions online at http://www.tosv.com/documentcenter/view/41
While we all hope it keeps dumping this winter, the next time you’re enjoying a powder day, make sure you thank those who are working hard off of the mountain to keep us moving safely.