August 18, 2017

Golden's March Blizzard

I spent a couple of hours on Thursday riding along with one of Golden’s snowplow drivers.  Golden and other parts of the Metro region were hit pretty hard Thursday morning, with heavy, wet snow, lots of accidents, and a bunch of highway closures.  One of the challenges with larger storms is that the snow just keeps coming.  Roads that have been plowed multiple times can look unplowed just because the snow keeps falling and the wind keeps blowing.  And as soon as vehicles start driving they tend to create layers of ice that the plows can’t remove, so a storm that dumps during rush hour – like this one did – is particularly difficult to manage.

By the time I jumped on board Mark’s truck, the heavy snow had largely stopped, so he and his crew (two large dump trucks and four pickup trucks, all equipped with snow plow blades) were able to finish clearing down the main streets and really turn their attention to our residential streets.

As residents, for the most part, we just know that things work.  When you turn on the tap, clear water flows.  When you call 911, someone answers and the Police Department or Fire Department responds.  When the snow falls, the streets get plowed.  It’s always interesting to spend time with the city’s various departments because you get a chance to see how the work actually gets done.  I hadn’t realized, for example, how much work is required to get a street down to asphalt (or down to the bottom layer of snow and ice that the plows can’t move).

plowing-washington-ave

Here is a shot from inside the cab traveling south on Washington.  I think at this point Mark and his crew had already made four passes on Washington and were just then getting down to where you could see the asphalt.  You can see how much snow there still is to move even at this point.  Given how much work it takes just to get the main streets plowed, it’s remarkable that we are able to plow the residential streets and then do a pretty good job of it, as well.  Many of our neighboring communities don’t even try to plow their residential streets.

I spent that evening riding all over town with one of our Golden Police Department patrol officers – it turned out to be a quiet night, I suspect because everyone went home early and stayed in – and even our residential streets that were in the worst shape were still very passable.  Hats off to the Streets Department for doing such a solid job keeping the streets clear during snowstorms (and for everything else they do maintaining and fixing Golden’s streets).