(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Have you ever wondered which roads get plowed first or why Colorado Springs doesn’t seem to pre-treat roads? FOX21 News spoke with Corey Farkas, Public Works Operations and Maintenance Division Manager to get answers as to how the city reacts to snow events.

Farkas talked about a question many in Colorado Springs have asked; why doesn’t the city pre-treat the roads when there is impending weather? Farkas boiled it down to one simple issue: storage capacity.

“Our operation, typically, in the past, we have not historically pretreated prior to storms very much, and the reason why is because we just haven’t had the storage capacity for liquid deicer. We are in the process of trying to rectify that as we’re adding storage capacity, we’re going to be quadrupling our storage capacity,” Farkas said.

This won’t be implemented for this winter but can be anticipated for next winter. The tanks are being built now, Farkas said. He also made clear that if Colorado Springs Public Works (CSPW) pretreated like the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) does, the city would run out of liquid deicer before the storm ended.

The way the road treatment works and the reason the liquid deicer is necessary is that it is used to coat the granular deicer, Ice Slicer, to help it stick to the roads.

Farkas said, “We’ve got saddle tanks on the side of our distributors on the back of the trucks, and as that dry, granulated deicer goes through the hopper and gets spread out onto the road. If you don’t spray it with a fine mist of the liquid deicer, that will simply bounce on the road as the trucks are driving and it bounces into the gutter pans and we get really nice deiced gutter pans and the roads are still frozen.”

In comparison with some other municipalities like places on the east coast, Colorado Springs uses a less harsh, more environmentally friendly, and vehicle-friendly granular deicer. Ice Slicer is mined out of Utah and boasts of numerous superior qualities to the rock salt or solar salt often used in other states. Those salts are considered harsher and cause rust faster.

CSPW has 50+ personnel that work one of two 12-hour shifts during snow events. There are 50 plows that can take on the bigger jobs and the department has F-550s that tackle the smaller stuff.

“Let’s say we have a two to three-day storm that dumps three to four inches on the city, it takes us upwards of six days to make sure everything is cleaned up. So even though it’s only a two to three-day storm it’ll take us four to six days to clean everything up and make sure the primaries and secondaries are fully widened out,” Farkas said.

The “primaries” are the primary arteries through the city that take priority over other roads in the plowing stages. These are the first focus for the plow crews who will then shift focus to the secondary routes when the primary routes are complete. The city has a route map that people can look at to understand where plows will be first and so on.

When there is more than six inches of snow, residential areas are added to the routes that need to be plowed. After the primary and secondary routes are taken care of, plows shift focus to these areas. Farkas said that typically by that time, the snow on the roads has been compacted into ice which the plows are not equipped to slice through.

“Once neighborhoods start to really get iced over, we have to go to a complaint basis where folks call in and say, ‘Hey we’ve got some really bad ice on our residential roadways, can you help us out,’ and we have to send loaders, graders, and heavy equipment out there. We’ve got an attachment for a grader that’s called an arctic shark… we have to go out and respond to those. It’s a really timely, and time-consuming process,” Farkas said.

Farkas encourages people in Colorado Springs to call those complaints in and urges patience in waiting for a response.