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Oct 25, 2011 11:06 PM by Andy Koen

Bracing for the snow

At the District 11 transportation facility there's a lot of work to be done before a snow storm. Facilities Director Kris Garnhart says his crews, understandably, prefer to rig their pick up trucks and dump trucks with plows and sanders the day before the snow hits.

"We just don't like to put plows and sanding equipment on in the dark and in the cold," Garnhart said.

Just the same, there's also a lot for Transportation Director Bill Bair to consider before sending his fleet of busses out on the road.

"The biggest thing that we look for is ice," Bair said. "That's always a major problem."

However, snow is a different story. Bair says he is much more comfortable sending busses out on a snowy day compared to an icy one.

Both the busses and their drivers are equipped to handle the weather. Garnhart says drivers will regularly train on icy pavement at the bus barn.

"We'll clear off some busses and have them drive on ice and get the busses to slide and things like that so that they understand that and know how to deal with it."

But for now, ice isn't a big worry at the City of Colorado Springs Streets Division. Operations Manager Bard Lower says, much like the storm we had earlier this month, it's taking a while for the weather to cool off.

"None of it stuck to the pavement because the pavement was nice and warm and the ground underneath was warm, same is true today," Lower said. "However, there'll be a lot more snow coming down and it will eventually stick to the pavement."

When it does cool off, they'll be ready. Lower says the city contracts with a private weather service to keep their plow drivers informed of any last minute changes in the path of a snow storm.

As a general rule, primary routes such as Academy Boulevard or Austin Bluffs Parkway are plowed first. The drivers then head to secondary streets which include bus routes and roads to schools and hospitals.

Residential neighborhoods are plowed last and there has to be at least six inches of snow on the ground. This winter, the city is testing a new plowing program using private contractors to clear the residential streets.

Councilwoman Angela Dougan says she and her fellow council members are expected to vote next month on a pilot program that would measure the cost efficiency of using private snow removal services in the Briargate neighborhood.

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