A 3-foot-high snow berm in the middle of Main Avenue is expected to disappear Tuesday and Wednesday nights as Durango city crews haul away the remains of last weekend’s snowstorm.
Crews expect to remove about 4,000 cubic yards of snow from downtown – or about the volume of two lap pools at the Durango Community Recreation Center – in the first major snow-removal effort of the season, said Levi Lloyd, director of city operations.
A lull in storm activity should give residents a chance to catch up on snow removal.
Forecasters were calling for clear skies and cool temperatures through the weekend.
Red Mountain Pass, which has been closed since Monday, will remain closed at least until Wednesday because of adverse conditions and high avalanche danger, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. Coal Bank, Molas and Wolf Creek passes were open as of Tuesday night.
Several residents could be found Tuesday digging out cars or clearing sidewalks and driveways, including A.J. Beals, who lives near Ninth Street and East Fifth Avenue.
He was pleased with the city’s snow-removal efforts so far this year, calling it the “best year ever, as far as I’ve seen.” He was especially pleased with one particular snowplow driver who put his blade close to the curbside and pushed the snow well out of the street.
“I was tickled,” he said. “I was telling my wife, these guys are good. ... If you do it right the first time, then there you go.”
Dwight McAnear, who lives on a sharp turn about halfway up North College Drive, also commended this year’s snowplow drivers.
McAnear, who has lived in the house for 26 years, said at least one car comes sliding into his yard every year. And in 1994 or 1995, he had 17 cars in his front yard during the course of the winter.
He has had to call 911 several times for crashes, some involving injuries, in front of his house. The sliding cars have destroyed a tree, two mailboxes and totaled a friend’s parked car, he said.
But so far this year, no one has come sliding into his front yard, he said.
“For the last five or six years, they’ve really done well,” McAnear said of snowplow drivers.
Lloyd said it is helpful when residents can remove their cars from the side of the street during snow-removal efforts. Residents’ chief complaint this year has been plows blocking their driveways with a berm of snow, he said.
“We try not to do that,” Lloyd said, “but it’s part of snow plowing.”
Snow that is removed this week from the downtown, Florida Road, 32nd Street and cul-de-sacs will be taken to a site near the Tech Center, west of the downtown. This is the first year snow is being stored at the Tech Center instead of Cundiff Park, which is south of downtown and across the Animas River from the Rivergate Lofts.
“The tech center is really designed for commercial uses, so we don’t have as many conflicts with residences,” Lloyd said.
The city purchased the 3.35 acres at the Tech Center for $374,000 in September, and it paid for several new ponds to help hold back runoff.
The previous site was right next to the river, and residents had concerns about melting snow flushing street grime into the river.
To ensure major thoroughfares through town are cleared of snow from curb to curb, the city also changed the way it manages snow routes this year, Lloyd said.
If more than 2 inches of snow falls, all cars on snow routes must be moved or they will be ticketed and towed.
Roads covered by this rule include Riverview Drive, Junction Street and West Park Avenue. A full map is available at durangogov.org/snow.
To encourage compliance, the city put up two signs along every block on a snow route, residents got letters in their utility bills, and the city left notices on doors in November.
“This way there is no gray area,” Lloyd said.
This storm marked the first time the snow-routes rules went into effect this season, and there was good compliance, he said.
Monday morning, the city’s parking department officers put 30 fliers on residents’ cars to notify them of the snow-route rules as an informal warning.
The city will start issuing tickets after the next major storm.
Residents can sign up for notification about snow route rules at www.durangogov.org/notifyme.