News

Snowplows seen in Denver metro during fifty-minute commute this morning: Zero

Watch local TV news and you'd be under the impression that snowplows are everywhere this morning -- but I sure as hell can't confirm it. I left my home in the Ken-Caryl Ranch area at 5:15 a.m. this morning, and by the time I slid into the parking lot at Westword's 969 Broadway HQ at 6:05 a.m. this morning, I'd seen a grand total of zero plows.

Moreover, the terrible conditions on highways and surface streets alike suggest I didn't just miss them.

The portion of C-470 along the foothills frequently tends to get ignored for long stretches during storms, despite the fact that the area's often hit by some of the biggest snow totals in these parts. But that's not typically the case on I-70 or 6th Avenue, the other major highways I schussed on during my commute.

So why the absence of plows? Following an October 2009 storm, I experienced something similar. Here's the explanation Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman Stacey Stegman shared with me then:

CDOT's 74 plows, manned in rotating, twelve-hour shifts that change at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m., stayed on duty, Stegman says. Of course, they can't be everywhere at once, which explains why I didn't see a single one during the twenty minutes I spent on C-470 along the foothills yesterday morning, and prioritizing can mean even large surface streets may receive short shrift. "We try to concentrate on the most heavily traveled freeways, which is why you sometimes see roads like Kipling and University get a little more slick," she admits.

That's certainly the case this morning. On Bannock, approaching our offices, I hit a mogul so large I think my sweet 1994 Geo Prizm caught air. If you're about to hit the roads, bring your ski poles. You'll need 'em.

More from our News archive: "What state's drivers should you fear most in a snowstorm?"

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts