Where's the Damn Snowplow?

In the interest of reducing road rage, we asked the city and state to explain their seemingly haphazard street-clearing methods. —NG

The Scenario It's been snowing for three hours yet Speer hasn't been cleared. You've just seen a second car slide into the curb in front of you when you notice there's a mini-snowplow down on the Cherry Creek bike path—the bike path!—clearing away.

You Think Um, hello? We could use some help up here. You know, where the cars are.

The Truth Bike path snow-clearing equipment is part of the Denver Parks and Recreation Department, and not the Street Maintenance Division's fleet. Plus, those machines aren't made to clear roads. Next time, bundle up and hit the trails for a skid-free trip.

The Scenario Four inches have fallen already, and you see a government-issue orange truck tooling down the road with its snowplow stuck up in the air.

You Think Is it that hard to just put that shovel down and clear the way? We're dying here.

The Truth Relax. You're on a city street, and that orange truck is part of the Colorado Department of Transportation's fleet. It's heading for state-maintained roads, like I-25. Now, if you see a white city-issue truck doing the same, feel free to be irate.

The Scenario You were dreading your drive down 23rd Avenue, but the street was clean and traffic was moving. You're having the best snow-day commute ever—until you hit downtown. Why is 18th Street a skating rink when 23rd was almost dry?

You Think Damn. So close.

The Truth The plows will get to 18th—eventually. Major traffic arteries like Speer Boulevard and Colfax Avenue are the first to see plows, whether those streets are on your way to work or not. Each of the city's snow routes has an "A," "B," or "S" (for schools) priority, and it could take plows eight hours to complete one pass of their entire route.

The Scenario Your street has seen 10 inches of snowfall in the last 24 hours, and there's no way your car is going to make it out of your driveway.

You Think I bet the plows will be here any minute.

The Truth The plows are never coming. Really. The city's snow-removal plan only includes residential streets if we get more than 12 inches in freezing temps.

The Scenario A late-season storm hits on April 2. The city is covered in 36 inches of the white stuff.

You Think Sweet! The slopes needed some extra coverage. I'm headed up tomorrow.

The Truth No, you're not—because many roads will be completely unplowed. The city plan only covers storms from November 15 through March 15.

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