Plows could run at night
November 22, 2006
Summit Park resident Hank Boehm may never spend another New Year’s hiking to his home on Parkview Drive.
Because snow is not removed from roads in the Snyderville Basin at night, Boehm says the snowy holiday often ends with him walking uphill several miles to his house from Aspen Drive because he can’t drive the steep thoroughfare.
"It has become a public safety issue," Boehm said. "Just because you have four-wheel drive, does not mean you’re getting home."
Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds and Park City Fire Chief Kelly Gee agree.
"In the event of a major storm and they don’t plow, [they] don’t have access up there," said Kevin Callahan, who is the administrator for Summit County Public Works.
In 1999, the county quit plowing streets between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m.
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"[Boehm’s] challenging us on that (policy)," said Callahan, who added that Park City and the Utah Department of Transportation plow roads in Summit County 24 hours per day. "It’s worth taking another look at it."
After a car became stuck near Parkview Drive this month roughly half a dozen Summit Park residents complained.
"They’re pretty much all in one area in Summit Park," Callahan said.
During storms the county may cooperate with Park City Municipal or implement a system where a "snow emergency" could be declared in Snyderville, he added.
"The West Side is so different than the rest of the county for this," Callahan said.
But hiring seasonal staffers to plow snow is difficult in Summit County’s tight labor market, Callahan claimed.
"The challenge is finding people who will do that," he said. "There is nobody who wants to take the job."
To avoid fatigue, the county’s drivers are restricted from operating snowplows for longer than 14 hours without resting for at least eight hours, Callahan said, adding that drivers are limited to working 60 hours per week.
"We’re pretty cautious of that," Callahan said, adding that a snowplow operator was killed about two decades ago in Summit County.
But according to Edmunds, "We as public safety, first responders, have to be able to get anywhere in the county within reason."
"That’s just something you don’t scrimp on," the sheriff said. "We want to get up there and make sure people are safe."
Callahan told the Summit County Commission, if necessary, "he would consider hiring a private contractor to patrol (the county) a half of dozen times during the winter."
He expects to discuss options to beef up snowplow service with commissioners on Nov. 29.