Plowing schedule revisited
November 18, 2006
People who live on cul-de-sacs and other less-traveled streets could see snowplows in front of their houses earlier, but not this winter.
The Public Works Department recently approached Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council with information about redoing what is a three-tier system for plowing city roads. The key change would be to discontinue the lowest tier, which includes cul-de-sacs, and put those streets into the second level.
"This is not uncommon across the board, countrywide, worldwide," says Pace Erickson, who is the operations manager in the Public Works Department, which runs the city’s snowplows.
The lowest priority is described as secondary streets in neighborhoods and cul-de-sacs. If the tier is eliminated, those streets would be grouped with what are described as arterial streets through neighborhoods, like Meadows Drive and Holiday Ranch Loop Road.
The top priority group would continue to include bus routes, Old Town, streets in business cores and Royal Street, the key route between Park City and Silver Lake.
Erickson says the streets of lowest priority now are cleared by 11 a.m. after a snowstorm. During a bigger storm, one that drops snow continually over days, some of those streets, such as the cul-de-sacs, might only be cleared once in a 24-hour period.
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If the snowplowing priorities are changed, the streets now of less importance to the plows would receive more attention.
Erickson says there are numerous cul-de-sacs in Park City that would be included in a revised list of priorities. They include Lily Langtry Court, Geronimo Court and Samuel Colt Court, all in Prospector, and Equestrian Way, which is in Park Meadows. Other streets include Sunny Slopes Drive, Aspen Springs Drive and roads in Old Town like 10th Street and 11th Street.
Roger Harlan, a City Councilman who lives on Geronimo Court, says the snowplowing has not been problematic and will not support the changes unless he is convinced that they are necessary.
He says, on his street, only once, in the early 1990s, has his family been unable to drive because the snow was not plowed.
"It hasn’t been demonstrated to me that we have a need," he says. "No one’s ever come to me (with complaints.)"
Harlan says that people who live in Park City expect that the streets will not be plowed immediately.
"You shouldn’t be surprised you have 12 inches of snow in the middle of January," he says, adding that he worries about the cost. "We’re doing a very acceptable job."
There have not been widespread discussions about the potential changes nor has there been a public groundswell from neighbors who live on the streets ranked as lowest priorities. Erickson acknowledges that the government occasionally receives complaints about the quality of snowplowing on cul-de-sacs. He says in a report to the City Council that, "customer satisfaction scores for snow removal continue to be high."
Erickson estimates that revising the priorities would cost City Hall $223,500 per year to pay for crews, equipment and supplies. Before making the change in priorities, the city would need to spend about $34,000 for two blades for plows. The city would require four additional snowplow shifts, with two people working each shift.
The City Council would need to decide whether to change the snowplowing priorities. Erickson expects that there could be discussions during the city’s budget talks, which usually start in the spring. If the City Council supports the changes, Erickson says the snowplows would be reassigned to the new priorities during the 2007-2008 winter at the earliest.
Erickson says the city spends about $1.1 million each year plowing and removing snow. Most of that sum, about $900,000, is spent on plowing streets. The rest is put toward clearing sidewalks and stairs, which City Hall wants cleaned so Park City is an easier place for people to walk in the winter.
He says the city’s snowplow fleet consists of seven trucks that can be outfitted with plows. Usually, six of those trucks have plows attached in the winter but two are typically out of service at any one time, he says.
"I think for most people who move here snow is part of the culture, part of the reason they moved here," Erickson says.