This is the second post in a series of Q&A that looks at how various
departments gear up for the busy winter season, and the challenges and
opportunities they face in providing high levels of service year-round.
We all light up like giddy children at the first sign of snow on the mountain because it means one thing: the countdown to ski season is on! But, the same early storms that promise a great year for skiers and boarders means all hands on deck for the Snowmass Village Public Works Department. Road Maintenance Operator Ed Fuller gives us an idea of what a typical winter looks like for the Road Division.
Q: Preparing for winter means there is never really an 'off-season" in Public Works. What do you do before the first snow falls to get ready?
Before the snow starts to fall we make sure we have completed all of our major road projects, complete repairs throughout the Village such as street lights or fencing, clear all of the ditches, and get our sand base full so we have the materials we need for the winter.
Q: You also have a ton of equipment that needs to be in prime working condition. How do you get your vehicles and equipment ready?
We work closely with our fleet maintenance division to complete all winter weatherization and repairs. Our team gets the plows on sanders and performs basic maintenance such as greasing and tightening belts, and inspecting the chains on our loaders. The chains for these vehicles are huge and get a lot of wear and tear. We inspect them link by link to see what we can replace vs. rebuild. Often with the first few storms, you'll see us plowing the roads using pickups to prevent wear and tear on the bigger and more costly equipment.
Q: What does the typical day look like for you when the snow really starts to fall?
Overall, we're responsible for plowing 39 road miles, and several Town parking lots. We have six employees which include a supervisor and five full-time maintenance operators working around the clock. Shifts go from 5 a.m. to 11 at night, seven days a week and we're always on call.
Plow drivers have been on the same routes for years because we each have our own style and a level of familiarity that makes us more efficient. My routes are the main roads, Pine, Sinclair Meadows, and Two Creeks. During a big storm, the calls will come in around 1 a.m., and five of us are on the roads immediately. We follow a plow strategy to ensure efficiency and safety depending on the inches that are falling. If it keeps snowing throughout the day, we're constantly catching up. Wood Rd. and the Faraway subdivisions are the most complicated to plow, because in a very heavy storm, we can't make it up there until the main roads are safe and passable.
Q: What can people do to help keep the roads in Snowmass Village safe this winter?
Drive safely around plows, use the Village shuttle, or make sure your car has proper snow tires. When people drive to quickly and cause a backup in traffic, our plows are stuck too and can't remove snow as quickly as we need to.
Learn more about road maintenance, view FAQ's, and check out photos of our equipment and crew on our website