Here’s Colorado Springs’ snow and ice control plan for 2021-2022

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Tejon Street in downtown Colorado Springs around 6:30 a.m. Friday.

File picture of Tejon Street in downtown Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS — With snow chances in the forecast, the City of Colorado Springs has released its latest fact sheet regarding snow and ice control.

You can read the full plan below:

City of Colorado Springs Snow and Ice Control Plan

The City of Colorado Springs’ Public Works Operations and Maintenance Division is responsible for servicing nearly 6,000 lane miles of roadway citywide. Providing safe and passable streets is a priority of the division year round.

From September to May, it prepares for and responds to minor and major snow events. During the 2020-2021 snow season, there were 23 recorded snow events requiring at least a partial call-out of City snow patrol. The first snow event was Sept. 8, 2020 and the last was April 20, 2021.

The average annual snowfall in Colorado Springs is 42 inches. Snow can pile up quickly at varying rates, however, and elevation and wind can compound accumulation having an immediate impact on mobility citywide.

PLANNED SNOW RESPONSE

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. 

BY THE NUMBERS

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

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 until 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.

Additional Media Information and Resources

Thank you for all you do to keep our community informed during inclement weather. Here are some helpful tips on how to arrange media requests to report on snow plow operations within the City of Colorado Springs.

  • During normal business hours, Monday- Friday, 8 a.m.- 5 p.m., contact Max D’Onofrio at 719-385-5248 or max.donofrio@coloradosprings.gov OR Jen Schreuder at 719-641-0638 or jenniferschreuder@coloradosprings.gov to coordinate interview requests regarding snow and ice response. She will coordinate interviews while the snow managers are working hard to clear our roads.  
  • On weekends and after hours, 5-10:30 p.m., call the on-call city communications staff member to arrange interviews.  The on-call number is (720) 460-0185.
  • For middle of the night and early morning interviews, 3 a.m.-8 a.m., call the on-duty snow manager directly.  We ask that you please limit calls to after 3 a.m. to allow snow managers time to concentrate on snow plowing operations. Refer to the latest snow and ice control email for how to reach the duty manager.

Snow and ice control updates

The Public Works Operations and Maintenance division emails regular snow and ice control updates to media throughout the duration of a storm event. These updates provide basic weather information as well as the plan for deploying resources, including areas to be addressed and types of materials to be used. These updates are distributed when shifts change, or more often as dictated by the weather. To be added to the distribution list, email max.donofrio@coloradosprings.gov.

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

Important messages for media to share during winter weather

  • Encourage motorists to give snow plows adequate space on the road and pass with care.
  • Encourage being a good neighbor by shoveling their sidewalk and helping neighbors, if needed.
  • Inform the public that the City works to clear primary and emergency routes to hospitals and schools first, followed by the main thoroughfares in the city. See our snow plow route map for more information. ColoradoSprings.gov/Snow

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