Newsflash: Just in case you missed it while you were away on winter break – it snowed.
The problem is it would be impossible for you to not have noticed the storms’ wrath because there are still snow banks large enough that sled dogs could be doing training runs on our residential side streets. My neighborhood west of Shields St. – known by many as “Sorority Row” – is in such disrepair, I think I saw a few sorority women wearing ice-climbing gear just to get from their car to their house.
According to the Fort Collins Streets Department, Fort Collins has a total of 1,249 lane miles to clear, 300 of which are residential streets like those surrounding campus, including my famed Sorority Row. To do the job safely and effectively, the city has broken all those miles down into four priority categories.
From the city’s website, http://www.fcgov.com, Priority 1 streets consist of the routes that allow emergency vehicles to get to citizens in need. Priority 2 streets are the remainder of the “major traffic volume streets” around town, like City Park Ave. Priority 3 streets are those related to bus routes and access to schools. Finally, we get to Priority 4, the majority of residential streets; streets that are not normally scheduled to be plowed except in the most intense snow emergencies, like the past month’s storms have created in the city.
Because of the priority list – a logical list if we look at it from an objective perspective and not from an angry-our-street-isn’t-a-priority viewpoint – many residents are just beginning to see snow removal taking place in neighborhoods. Although no residential street is a true top priority, city officials do care about the area surrounding the campus.
“We are very concerned about the areas surrounding CSU,” said Holli Keyser, the administrative support supervisor for the Streets Department. “There are many areas with on-street parking that are priorities for us to clear right now, so residents have room to park and drive on the streets.”
The problem is that in many campus neighborhoods cars are still embedded in the snow, meaning the city must tow them before any plowing can even take place. This slows the process down as plows are forced to wait while cars are moved from one side of the street to the other.
Yet, even given the extra effort and cost, the Streets Department is actively working around CSU to get the roads clear. With around 60 pieces of heavy equipment literally running around the clock, there has been definite progress; the major issue is that almost every week, a new storm has dropped more snow on Fort Collins.
Each storm has forced crews to abandon work on residential side streets and once again go through the priority list, as the burgeoning snow banks on residential streets must simply remain untouched.
“We have guys who have literally not had a single day off since December 20,” Keyser said. “The temperatures have been keeping us from getting ahead; it has really been a historic snow event the past month.”
Until all the snow is cleared, Keyser says the work will be ongoing to get Fort Collins streets back into order. Thus far – not even a month into the new year – Fort Collins has used nearly half of its entire 2007 snow removal budget.
“We have applied for money from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and we have emergency reserves to ensure we can get the job done,” said Keyser, adding that because city and state emergencies were declared due to the snow, Fort Collins is eligible for federal emergency funding from FEMA.
With all of the factors involved in snow removal in Fort Collins, it’s clear to me everything short of using flame throwers is being done to make our streets snow free. Thus, I guess the only advice I can give is to the sorority women in my neighborhood: It may be worth it to invest in a pair of ice-climbing boots that can also double as a cute party accessory later this year. I would call them Ugg Boots with an attitude.
Jake Blumberg is a junior technical journalism and political science double major. His column appears occasionally in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.