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Local road crews: 'Monday's storm did not catch us off guard'

Supervisors respond to criticism of snow response

Local snow removal crews Storm didnt catch us offguard

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Many drivers in the Colorado Springs area said it took too long for plows to begin clearing away snow from streets and roads after Monday night's winter storm.

But supervisors for Colorado Springs, El Paso County and the Colorado Department of Transportation insist the storm did not catch them off guard.

Supervisors said snowfall that was heavier-than-expected and sub-freezing temperatures were factors in a delayed response to the storm.

"We were on a partial callout because we weren't expecting that much snow," said Jack Ladley, a city supervisor.  "We had a patrol out earlier in the day.  But that night, the storm hit hard and it took time to transition to a full callout."

Ladley also said road salt doesn't work as well in temperatures near zero, as they were Monday night.

Troy Wiitala, a county supervisor, said his crews had already ended work for the night when the snow intensified around 8 p.m.

"Normally, we take a break between shifts anyway," he said.  "We already had crews coming back in at 2 a.m. (Tuesday).  By the time we realized it was snowing harder, it would have taken the same amount of time to call everyone back in and get prepared, and there aren't as many vehicles on the roads at that time."

Supervisors also said the storm was different in that it covered the area equally, with fewer areas of heavier accumulation that is more typical of winter storms.

"We didn't have any problems," said Brad Bauer, a CDOT supervisors.  "No serious crashes.  It did snow more than we expected, and this morning there was more snow still on the highways than we like to see. But we handled it well."

Supervisors said they can do only so much with limited resources and, sometimes, unexpected weather conditions.

"We all have a lot of ground to cover," Ladley said.  "It can seem at times that crews aren't out working, when they're actually working in another area."

The supervisors graded their response to the storm as low as a B and as high as an A-minus.

Despite complaints from many drivers, most of those who spoke with KRDO NewsChannel 13 were forgiving and complimentary of the crews' performance, with most rating it a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Many drivers who complained were driving early in the storm when the snow was at its heaviest.  Most of those who supported crews drove after local departments went on full callouts and brought more resources to snow removal.

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