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Too Much Too Late

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The high temperature today is expected to be in the 50s, and it is supposed to be much warmer this week than it was last week. Denver’s side streets have been covered in thick snow and ice for more than a month. So it seems like a perfect time to spend a lot of money on “snow melting machines.”

I’m confused. Isn’t the sun…free?

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Denver City officials are set to spend some $10 million clearing Denver’s side streets of snow, including hiring every outside contractor they can find as well as employing a “snow melting machine.” I’m amused that such a machine really exists, but I digress. As Fox 31 News reports:

The city of Denver will have crews and heavy equipment out in force Monday.

Their mission is to clear the city’s side streets of snow and ice that has been building up since December 20.

It’s an “all hands on deck” approach. The cost is astronomical. The city plans to spend $8-10 million to get the job done.
The city is renting a huge snow-melting machine to shrink the sizes of some snow mounds in the city.

Officials are renting the machine from a contractor that’s moving to Fort Collins from Oregon.

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It’s designed to melt 200 tons of snow per hour, and send the resulting water directly into storm drains.

That’s swell, but why are they doing this now? I know that city officials, including Mayor John Hickenlooper, have been heavily criticized for not doing more to clear the side streets of the thick snow and ice on the road, but this seems like a really strange belated reaction. I never blamed the city for not clearing the side streets because it would have been so costly to do so, and officials did a good job of explaining the limitations on snow removal. But why are they willing to pay that heavy cost today, when the worst of the snowstorms have been behind us for weeks? If they were going to fork out $10 million for snow removal, why not do it, oh, four weeks ago?

This decision should have been made weeks ago or not made at all. It all seems like too much of a response much too late.

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