Snow removal ongoing

Snow removal is a work in progress in Alamosa./Courier photo by Helen Smith

ALAMOSA — Residential streets may remain icy and snowpacked in Alamosa, but the city has not forgotten its residents, Alamosa Public Works Director Mark Wright assured city council during their meeting Wednesday.

He said with back-to-back snows, city crews were busy keeping up with the type of snowfall that Alamosa has not experienced in recent years. Wright said the city had every piece of equipment it had out on the roads and enlisted the help of county trucks and contracted equipment.

In fact, the city has already essentially exhausted its snow removal budget for the year and used savings from 2018, Wright said. “We are not even three weeks into 2019, and we are done,” he said.

However, he added, “We are not going to stop what we are doing, but there will be a budget amendment.”

Wright said the way the city snow removal has progressed has been to remove snow downtown and now to move to cul de sacs, which present a unique problem because there is no place to put the snow. City crews are moving it into the street and picking it up.

Wright said after city crews have cleared city streets, some residents have “helped” by pushing the snow back into the city right of way “and re-closed the streets we had opened.”

He added, “We need to address that issue because it is causing us problems in downtown and residential areas.”

Alamosa City Manager Heather Brooks said that some people might think the city should push the snow to the middle of the street, but when the city is dealing with 60 miles of roadway, “We don’t have the ability to move that much snow.”

She said it is hard to meet everyone’s expectation of what the city should be doing with the snow removal.

She agreed with Wright that some residents have piled up snow in attempts to clear it from their driveways and roadways, and those piles will not soon melt, given their size, and could cause problems blocking the sewer.

The city crews have tried to keep up with the snow removal and keep commercial and main arterial roads as clear as possible, Brooks added.

Once snow is packed onto the streets, there’s not much the city can do, she explained. She said some sand has been placed at different locations.

Wright said once the snow and ice are packed on the asphalt, the city couldn’t scrape it because the equipment will scrape asphalt with it. “We have to wait till it thaws,” he said.

Councilor Liz Hensley said Alamosa has been spoiled by some warm years recently and is not used to this much snow. She encouraged residents to be patient. “We are doing the best we can.”

Councilman Jan Vigil said he gets calls every day about the snow and was glad to hear the city was addressing the cul de sacs. He said he also receives calls about neighbors not clearing their sidewalks, as required by the city.

Brooks said if Vigil would provide specific addresses to the city, the enforcement officer could follow up on that.

Vigil said he has also received calls from people who said they had plowed their driveways out and then the city plowed them back in.

Wright said that would be the next focus of city crews, to remove that snow in front of driveways, after the cul de sacs, if the city does not receive another snow and the crews have to start all over again.

“We do the best we can,” he said.