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Frequently Asked Questions about Snow Removal

  • Why doesn’t the County plow my street when they go by?

    Routes are plowed on a priority basis with arterial roadways, collector roadways and school routes being top priorities. Clearing those roadways first enables emergency services to gain access into all residential areas normally with a few blocks of each residence.

    Are cul-de-sacs plowed after every storm?

    Local streets and cul-de-sacs are plowed after every storm unless the snow is expected to melt over the following 24 hours.   An exception is made if the street has hills and curves that could become hazardous to motorists.  On heavy storms, snow may not be removed until the following day after arterials and collectors are plowed.

    Who is responsible for clearing sidewalks?

    Residents are responsible for clearing driveways and sidewalks within 24 hours after a snow storm to allow safe use by pedestrians. This is particularly important along school pedestrian routes to prevent children from having to walk in the street.   It is required that owners place snow from their driveways and sidewalks onto their front yard and not into the street. This practice reduces the number of icy areas on streets and ensures proper drainage flow into the storm sewer. Additionally, your lawn can use the available moisture over the winter.

    After the storm, the snowplow came through and pushed snow back into my driveway entrance, why?

    Cleanup and widening operations often take place one to four days after the snow storm, depending upon the severity of the storm and wind conditions. It is often necessary to widen roads to ensure that ice and snow melts from the pavement surface to keep driving lanes open.  Unfortunately, subsequent widening operations may push snow back onto sidewalks and driveways.

    What if I have an emergency and my street isn’t plowed?

    If an emergency situation occurs, call 911. Equipment will be diverted for emergencies ONLY WHEN REQUESTED BY AN EMERGENCY SERVICE AGENCY OR THE DOUGLAS COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT. The Sheriff’s Department is in constant communication with PW Ops personnel during snow events so snow removal equipment can be detoured to assist with emergency response. It should be noted that it is a crime to make a false emergency request.

    Who is responsible for damaged mailboxes?

    Mailboxes installed along roadways are at the risk of the owner. Mailboxes damaged from lack of owner maintenance, heavy snow from plowing, or vandalism is not the responsibility of the County. Postal regulations require residents to clean snow from in front of mailboxes to allow for mail delivery. Douglas County encourages the clustering of individual mailboxes to minimize potential damage during snow storms and allow for mail to delivered efficiently.  To learn more about mailbox clustering, please call 303.660.7480.

    How many Snow Removal Districts are in unincorporated Douglas County and what equipment is available?>

    Douglas County has six snow removal districts located geographically throughout the County. Each district has assigned personnel and equipment with responsibility for the roads within that particular district. Douglas County snowplow units are white with the Douglas County logo. Motor graders are yellow with the Douglas County logo on the side.

    What can I expect in regards to snow removal prior to, during and after the storm?

    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.
    • 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.

    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.

    What is the 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, $1.00 per household, per storm.

    How are Douglas County snow plows tracked?

    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.

    Does does Douglas County ever require assistance from third-party contractors?

    Does does Douglas County ever require assistance from third-party 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.

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

    Douglas County is responsible for the maintenance of approximately 2,409 lane miles of roads in unincorporated areas of the County. Of these roads, approximately 1,817 lane miles are paved and 592 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 67 from Deckers to Woodland Park
    • A portion of Highway 105 from Highway 67 to Wolfensberger Road
    • E-470 is maintained by the E-470 Highway Authority

    How does Douglas County plan for snow removal?

    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.