Snow and Ice Removal

Snow / Weather Updates – no updates at this time

Fill out an online concern or complaint regarding snow or ice removal (areas not in a town or city) the following is a brief summary of the County’s roadway snow removal plan.

Snow and Ice Removal Information

Because every snowstorm has varying characteristics – temperature, moisture content, wind velocity and storm duration, etc.  –  Public Works Operations (PW Ops) initiates a snow removal plan that is unique to each individual storm.  The primary focus is always on public safety.

In the case of major blizzards, Public Works Operations will develop a plan and place the information on the Douglas County website home page.  The information is updated as necessary to keep the website current with changing conditions.

Snow removal planning efforts for a snow storm begin as soon as forecasts of impending weather events are received from the National Weather Service and Skyview Weather.  Snow forecasts are continually monitored to determine when the storm will arrive, what snow accumulations can be expected, storm intensity, and what air temperatures can be anticipated.

For information on snow and ice removal responsibilities on state highways within Douglas County, visit the Colorado Department of Transportation website. For snow and ice removal practices by the incorporated cities and towns in the County, please click the appropriate link for Castle Rock, Castle Pines, Lone Tree or Parker.

In Highlands Ranch, Douglas County is responsible for plowing roads and neighborhoods, while the Highlands Ranch Metro District is responsible for trails, community parking lots and more.

There are many roads running through Douglas County – who is responsible for which roads?

Douglas County is responsible for the maintenance of approximately 2,345 lane miles of roads in unincorporated areas of the County. Of these roads, approximately 1,745 lane miles are paved and 600 lane miles are gravel. Roads within incorporated municipalities, are maintained by each respective municipality.

In addition, there are many roads within the County that are privately maintained.

Seven major state highways pass through Douglas County which are maintained by the Colorado Department of Transportation.   These highways are:

  • Interstate 25
  • C-470
  • Highway 86
  • Highway 85
  • Highway 83
  • A portion of Highway 67 from Highway 85 to Rampart Range Road
  • A portion of Highway 105 from Highway 67 to Wolfensberger Road
  • E-470 is maintained by the E-470 Highway Authority

Planning for Snow Removal – Each Storm Calls for a Unique Approach

 

The plan includes:

  • Number of snowplows and personnel required:
    The number of personnel and type of snow removal equipment are determined based upon the anticipated strength of the storm. Personnel from PW Ops and other County departments are deployed when snow starts falling.  View a map of Snow Removal Districts and Equipment.
  • Number of shifts and length of shifts for drivers:
    Snow removal personnel are notified of anticipated start times based upon available weather data. Douglas County typically assigns personnel to two 12-hour shifts with the major workforce deployed during the daylight hours to assist rush-hour traffic. A limited number of units are deployed during evening hours  to keep roads open, continue widening operations,  and to respond to requests for emergency assistance. If you have an emergency during a snow storm, call 911 for assistance.
  • Determining what products are most appropriate for the road surfaces:
    Douglas County utilizes both liquid and granular de-icing products depending upon the location of the road, temperature of the pavement, and potential for re-freezing. Liquid anti-icing products are sometimes applied to arterial roadways (major roadways) prior to snow storms.  Anti-icing products can only be applied when temperatures are suitable.  These products help to minimize the bonding of snow to pavement surfaces.  Granular deicers are applied to melt snow and ice whenever present.  Materials containing a blend of salt and sand are often applied to roadways to provide extra traction at curves, hills, and intersections.

County maintained roads are plowed, as indicated on the map, based on the prioritization criteria.

What to expect prior to, during and after the storm

  • Subdivision streets are not plowed if parked vehicles or other obstructions interfere with the safe and continuous operation of snow removal equipment. Equipment may return to plow after obstructions are moved. When a snow storm is forecast, residents are advised to move vehicles off the street if a snow storm is forecast to allow safe access by snowplows.

During heavy snow storms, plows will often clear lanes simultaneously

  • Multiple snowplows often plow together to remove snow from multi-lane streets. This results in a more efficient operation and eliminates piles of snow in the roadway that may become obstructions to vehicles. When you see this process in action, please give equipment adequate room to operate. Do not drive within a snowplow operator’s blind spot as he/she is not able to see you. For personal safety, never pass a snow plow that is engaged in snow removal. Snow and ice that comes off the plow blade can damage your vehicle or greatly obstruct your vision.
  • Douglas County clears all roadways according to priority until conditions are safe for travel. Cul-de-sacs and some local streets may not be plowed if accumulations are minor and snow is expected to melt over the following 24-hours. Exceptions to this are made if the streets have hills or curves that may become icy and hazardous to traffic.

What to expect after the storm

  • Depending upon temperatures, wind velocities and the extent of snow melt, crews may have to widen travel lanes, remove ice, and perform other operations for up to several days after a snow event. Snow from adjacent properties can melt and re-freeze overnight, creating ice buildup on the street. To report ice buildup on a street, please call 303.660.7480.

Citizen Responsibilities during and after snow storms include sidewalk shoveling, snow placement and vehicle removal.

To view frequently asked questions about snow and ice removal click here.

Cost of Snow and Ice Removal

Planning for snow and ice removal begins with annual budgeting for this important public safety service.   The average cost per winter season – to manage snow and ice – is about $3.8 million. This includes personnel, equipment, de-icing products and fuel.   Overall this cost equates to approximately $33.22 per household, per year, for unincorporated Douglas County households (cities and towns excluded) or, on average, $12.33 per household, per storm.

Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) System

Douglas County has implemented an Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) system to assist in snow removal operations. The AVL system will be used as a management tool to track vehicles to provide operator safety, help with equipment deployment and storm management.   This system allows management staff to view the progress of snow removal operations during storms and can be monitored from Douglas County Emergency Operations Center, the PW Ops Facility, or from supervisor’s vehicles.  Based upon information from the AVL system, supervisory staff can move resources to accommodate changing weather conditions and move resources from one snow removal district to another to maximize productivity and efficiency.  This system also enables the most efficient use of equipment when assisting emergency services (ambulances, fire equipment, and law enforcement) during blizzards.

Assistance from Contractors

During major snowstorms like those in 2006-2007, contractors were heavily utilized throughout the County to assist staff in snow removal activities. Contractors supplemented County operations with front-end loaders and motor graders on residential streets to clear ice and snow pack. The County maintains a list of qualified contractors and incorporates them into the snow removal operation plan when needed.