Routes are plowed on a priority basis with arterial roadways, collector roadways, and school routes being top priorities. Clearing those roadways first enables emergency services to gain access into all residential areas normally with a few blocks of each residence.
Local streets and cul-de-sacs are plowed after every storm unless the snow is expected to melt over the following 24 hours. An exception is made if the street has hills and curves that could become hazardous to motorists. On heavy storms, snow may not be removed until the following day after arterials and collectors are plowed.
Residents are responsible for clearing driveways and sidewalks within 24 hours after a snowstorm to allow safe use by pedestrians. This is particularly important along school pedestrian routes to prevent children from having to walk in the street. It is required that owners place snow from their driveways and sidewalks onto their front yard and not into the street. This practice reduces the number of icy areas on streets and ensures proper drainage flow into the storm sewer. Additionally, your lawn can use the available moisture over the winter.
Cleanup and widening operations often take place one to four days after the snowstorm, depending upon the severity of the storm and wind conditions. It is often necessary to widen roads to ensure that ice and snow melt from the pavement surface to keep driving lanes open. Unfortunately, subsequent widening operations may push snow back onto sidewalks and driveways.
If an emergency situation occurs, call 911. Equipment will be diverted for emergencies ONLY WHEN REQUESTED BY AN EMERGENCY SERVICE AGENCY OR THE DOUGLAS COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT. The Sheriff’s Department is in constant communication with PW Ops personnel during snow events so snow removal equipment can be detoured to assist with emergency response. It should be noted that it is a crime to make a false emergency request.
Mailboxes installed along roadways are at the risk of the owner. Mailboxes damaged from lack of owner maintenance, heavy snow from plowing, or vandalism is not the responsibility of the County. Postal regulations require residents to clear snow from in front of mailboxes to allow for mail delivery. Douglas County encourages the clustering of individual mailboxes to minimize potential damage during snowstorms and allows for mail to be delivered efficiently. To learn more about mailbox clustering, please call 303-660-7480.
Douglas County has six snow removal districts located geographically throughout the County. Each district has assigned personnel and equipment with responsibility for the roads within that particular district. Douglas County snowplow units are white with the Douglas County logo. Motor graders are yellow with the Douglas County logo on the side.
During heavy snowstorms, plows will often clear lanes simultaneously.
Citizen Responsibilities during and after snowstorms include sidewalk shoveling, snow placement, and vehicle removal.
Planning for snow and ice removal begins with annual budgeting for this important public safety service. The average cost per winter season – to manage snow and ice – is about $3.8 million. This includes personnel, equipment, de-icing products, and fuel. Overall this cost equates to approximately $33.22 per household, per year, for unincorporated Douglas County households (cities and towns excluded) or, on average, $1.00 per household, per storm.
Douglas County has implemented an Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) system to assist in snow removal operations. The AVL system will be used as a management tool to track vehicles to provide operator safety, help with equipment deployment and storm management. This system allows management staff to view the progress of snow removal operations during storms and can be monitored from Douglas County Emergency Operations Center, the PW Ops Facility, or from supervisor’s vehicles. Based upon information from the AVL system, supervisory staff can move resources to accommodate changing weather conditions and move resources from one snow removal district to another to maximize productivity and efficiency. This system also enables the most efficient use of equipment when assisting emergency services (ambulances, fire equipment, and law enforcement) during blizzards.
During major snowstorms like those in 2006-2007, contractors were heavily utilized throughout the County to assist staff in snow removal activities. Contractors supplemented County operations with front-end loaders and motor graders on residential streets to clear ice and snowpack. The County maintains a list of qualified contractors and incorporates them into the snow removal operation plan when needed.
Douglas County is responsible for the maintenance of approximately 2,409 lane miles of roads in unincorporated areas of the County. Of these roads, approximately 1,817 lane miles are paved and 592 lane miles are gravel. Roads within incorporated municipalities are maintained by each respective municipality.
In addition, there are many roads within the County that are privately maintained.
Seven major state highways pass through Douglas County which are maintained by the Colorado Department of Transportation. These highways are:
Planning for Snow Removal – Each Storm Calls for a Unique Approach which includes: