Snow plows maneuvered around Denver’s streets Monday, clearing out more than two feet of snow left behind by the weekend’s historic blizzard. But city officials reminded people that the plows clearing residential streets have limitations.
While Denver uses a fleet of 70 larger plows to clear main streets, a smaller fleet is responsible for residential streets and are 4X4 pickups outfitted for the task. The pickups pass down each side street only once in a single 12-hour shift , city officials said in a release, and clear the top few inches of snow rather than scraping down to the pavement. They also do not de-ice residential streets.
Unplowed residential streets amount to a regular frustration for Denver residents when there’s a large snow — frustration that often lingers until the sun melts whatever wasn’t cleared.
That frustration is understandable, City Councilman Chris Hinds said. From his vantage point in his downtown district on Monday, he said that 13th Street, which considered a main artery, was entirely clear but 12th Street, a residential street, was “pretty bad.”
But Denver can only prepare so much for such historic storms, Hinds said, adding: “We cannot invest all of the peoples’ money to provide for every 100-year event.”
As climate change worsens, Hinds said, the city’s playbook for what constitutes a 100-year event might need another look.
“We’ve seen three of the four most destructive wildfires in Colorado’s history and we’ve seen the fourth-worst snowstorm in the last 12 months,” Hinds said.
City officials did not immediately respond Monday to questions about future extreme storms or the current status of the city’s plow fleet and more.
Denver residents can track the progress of large and small plows online as they work their way through the city; in the early afternoon, it showed 32 plows on Denver’s streets.
Arvada, Aurora and Commerce City similarly have plow trackers online. Additional snow removal information for Centennial, Edgewater, Lakewood and Littleton can be found on the city governments’ websites.
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