COLORADO SPRINGS — Prepping snowplow drivers starts early in Colorado Springs. Wednesday, the city’s Public Works Operations and Maintenance Division is getting crews ready for this winter with a two-day mandatory training.

Around 150 people in the division were part of the city’s snow and ice control training. This training course is preparing snowplow drivers for different circumstances they run into on the road, while giving them a chance to operate the heavy equipment with plow and sander in tow.

This year, around 35 drivers are joining the team of operators for the city. Still, the Public Works Division says they’re going into this winter season short-staffed by 12 drivers.

“Turnovers have become something we’ve had to become accustomed to and adapt to. As a result, we’ve intensified training and we’re trying to provide quality jobs with good benefits that can give people good opportunities for careers and growth,” said Clint Brown, Street Operations Manager with COS Public Works Operations and Maintenance Division.

Crews have two new deicer storage tanks ready to roll out this winter, offering up more resources to prepare ahead of storms and respond during them.

City crews service nearly 6,000 lane miles across Colorado Springs.

PLANNED SNOW RESPONSE:

Colorado Springs snow control fleet

  • 48 plows
  • 4 motor graders
  • 6 loaders
  • 4 loaders are employed at district facilities to load material into the plows
  • “Full Call-Out” means anywhere from 36-40 plows are in operation

Snow control staff needed to run a snow shift

  • 40 plow operators
  • 3 supervisors
  • 1 manager
  • 1 staff member at the operations center
  • Total = 45 people working 12 hour shifts, or 90 people for a 24 hour shift

When snow is predicted

  • Anti-icing material, liquid magnesium chloride, is applied to main streets before it snows when weather conditions permit. This helps prevent snow from bonding to the pavement.

When snow begins

  • De-icing material is applied to main streets to prevent snow from building up and turning into ice. 
  • Main streets are plowed by heavy plows. If 6 inches of snow or more accumulates, the main streets have been cleared, and the snow has stopped falling, then residential streets are treated as resources allow.
  • Depending on location, either Ice Slicer – a dry material that looks like sand, but is a naturally-mined mix of sodium chloride and potassium chloride – or liquid magnesium chloride may be used to de-ice.

When it’s a major snow event

  • A major snow event is defined as 12-plus inches of snow accompanied by prolonged freezing temperatures.
  • Anti-icing and de-icing material is applied only to main streets to prevent snow from building up and turning into ice and may be utilized to improve traction and decrease ice on roadways.
  • The first priority is to plow main arterials and streets that connect neighborhoods to those arterials. This helps the streets with the most regular and emergency traffic to be as safe as possible. Weather conditions determine the amount of plows and type of materials used for each storm.
  • When primary and secondary routes are cleared and safe for travel, the division will begin plowing and applying anti-skid material in residential areas where accumulating snowfall has exceeded 6 inches. This occurs after the storm has passed and snowfall has ceased. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What type of material is used for snow operations?

  1. Treated Salt is used to melt snow and ice at low temperatures. It helps keep ice from forming on the road surface after it has been plowed.
  1. Anti-Skid is a sand and salt mixture used when temperatures fall enough to decrease the effectiveness of de-icers. The salt helps to imbed the sand in the ice and increases traction on icy roadways.  
  1. Magnesium Chloride is a liquid de-icer that is very effective at melting ice when the temperature outside is above zero. This material helps keep ice from bonding with the road surface, making it easier to plow snow and ice from the roadway. It is also used with salt, which helps activate the material before it hits the roadway, ultimately increasing its effectiveness on ice. “Pre-wet” anti-skid is also used in combination with magnesium chloride. This keeps the sand from blowing off the roadway and helps it to imbed into the snow and ice, which increases traction.

How does winter weather affect potholes?

During the winter, potholes are created when moisture seeps into cracks in the surface of a road and freezes, causing it to expand. When the ice thaws that space is left empty, resulting in a hole in the pavement or a “pothole.” Residents are encouraged to call 719-385-ROAD to report potholes or use the GoCOS mobile app.

Who clears sidewalks and when does that happen?

The City of Colorado Springs requires property owners to clear their walkways so everyone has safe access citywide. Once snow has stopped falling, residents have 24 hours and businesses have until 5 p.m. the following day, to remove snow and ice from public sidewalks adjacent to their property.

How can you report an unshoveled sidewalk to the City?

Residents are encouraged to work together to keep sidewalks clear for safe passage and kindly remind neighbors with unshoveled sidewalks of the City’s requirement. To report a problem, contact 719-385-5977 and provide the address of an unshoveled sidewalk or use the GoCOS mobile app.

Snow and ice control updates

City communications also shares this information on the City website and through its social media channels.