El Paso County crews plowing through snowstorm questions and complaints

Posted at 7:23 PM, Feb 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-27 16:48:53-05

The string of snowstorms in Colorado keeps plow crews busy. Managers say they also get complaints.

"Some folks get frustrated with how long it takes us to get into the neighborhoods," said El Paso County Public Works Executive Director Scot Cuthbertson.

The county uses a priority system for plowing, as defined by the following:

Priority One Roads are defined as all paved roads that are identified on the El Paso County Major Transportation Corridor map as major arterials and such other road sections as defined by the Director of the Department of Transportation. There are 183 unique named Priority One roads totaling 870 miles.

Priority Two Roads are defined as roads that collect traffic from subdivision roads and allow traffic circulation within residential areas while providing channels to the major arterial system. There are 824 uniquely named Priority Two roads totaling 775 miles.

Priority Three Roads are roads that are residential in nature. These roads will be plowed when time, available funds, and equipment permit. There are 1,461 uniquely named Priority Three roads totaling 325 miles.

The last storm dropped so much snow, plows had to stick with priority one roads longer going over them multiple times.

"That slows us down getting to our priority two roads and it slows us down getting into the neighborhoods to address the priority three roads."

Then when crews get to the neighborhoods, not everyone is happy to have a pass by a plow. Some complain about plows leaving a pile of snow in front of recently shoveled drives.

"Snow building up on the blade of the snowplow, it has to go somewhere,” said Cuthbertson, “I can't pick it up and move it. It has to get pushed off the roadway by that snowplow." He says the common term “snow removal” is not accurate. Instead, plows cut a path pushing snow to the side.

There is a third common complaint. Drivers question why roads still show snow and ice. "We use the term, 'passable for winter driving conditions.' We will get the majority of the snow out of there and then move-on,” said Cuthbertson, “You won't get bare pavement in a neighborhood from our treatment. That's not what we do."

Remember to keep your distance from and don't pass plows, doing so is against state law, plus is is dangerous for you and the plow drivers. During a single snowstorm the first week of February the Colorado Department of Transportation had three plows hit in the southeast Colorado region during a snow event.

Click here to find out where your street or road falls within the priority list in El Paso County.
Click here for the overall snow plow zone map in El Paso County.
Visit the City of Colorado Springs Public Works pages for information on how they plan and process for snow plow routes.

Have an issue you want Driving Change to address or a question about this story, contact us at driving