The city of Durango has spent more than half a million dollars and thousands of hours in the past two months clearing city streets of snow that, in February, almost reached record-breaking accumulations, officials said.
The city has paid to remove 21,040 cubic yards of snow from the Central Business District and residential neighborhoods since the beginning of the year, according to the City Operations Department. That’s enough snow to fill almost two Goodyear blimps, more than six Olympic-sized swimming pools and more than 591 school buses.
An average cubic yard of snow weighs about 21 pounds per cubic foot, or about 567 pounds per cubic yard. That means the city moved almost 12 million pounds of snow from Durango streets since Jan. 1. That’s equivalent to the weight of almost 40 blue whales, the largest animal on Earth.
So far, the city has spent $537,337 on snowplowing and snow-removal operations in 2019.
To move all that snow, the city paid $111,066, in part to private contractors who used trucks to haul snow from downtown and residential streets to a location above the Durango Tech Center west of downtown. The city contracts six to eight dump trucks and a bulldozer from businesses for snow removal, said Levi Lloyd, director of city operations.
The city incurred nearly half the snow removal expense – $48,723 – in a 10-day period from Feb. 17 to Feb. 27.
In that period, the city plowed 6,333 miles of roadway. That’s the equivalent of one plow driving from New York City to Los Angeles more than twice.
The city purchased the snow dump near the Tech Center two years ago, Lloyd said. There’s more snow at the site now than there’s ever been, he said. The pile near the Tech Center is somewhere between 15 and 20 feet high, he said.
While these numbers may be staggering, Lloyd said this winter has been “slightly above average” when it comes to snowfall. It just seems like there’s a lot of snow because of the abysmal winters the city has experienced in the past two years, he said.
Lloyd said he doesn’t see any issues with drainage. There are stormwater quality ponds that manage runoff and filter debris and garbage out of the snowmelt before it drains into the Animas River.
“There’s water quality features up there. There’s a significant drainage ditch. This is standard operating procedure; it’s just melting snow,” Lloyd said.