Politics

Denver to plow side streets as snowstorm may drop up to 12 inches

Denver is planning to plow side streets during the sizeable winter storm expected to blanket the city in a fresh coat of snow starting Tuesday afternoon.

The pledge comes a few weeks after side streets in the city went unplowed following a major storm leaving sheets of ice remaining in some places weeks later.

Denver’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure on Monday announced that its working plan for the incoming storm involves activating that city’s fleet of 36 pickup trucks with plows on them to address residential and side streets.

Over the course of a 12-hour shift, those plows will be able to make one pass down the center of each side street, according to the public works department. That work is expected to begin at 3 p.m. Tuesday but the city is keeping tabs on the forecast and could adjust that plan, spokeswoman Nancy Kuhn said.

The National Weather Service is calling for a snowstorm that could drop 4 to 8 of snow on Denver from Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday. Some areas, especially those that are east of Interstate 25, could get as much as 10 to 12 inches, according to the weather service’s outlook.

The city is prioritizing residential plowing for this storm because of the high snowfall totals and the cold temperatures in the forecast for the rest of the week with more snow possible on Friday, officials said.

“Facing the possibility of another moisture-laden storm with even greater forecasted accumulations, I want to acknowledge the continuous efforts of our city’s snowplow drivers and assure Denverites we will be on the job to meet this next challenge that Mother Nature throws at us,” Adam Phipps, the department’s executive director, said in a statement.

Unlike the city’s primary fleet of large plows, the smaller pickups do not carry deicing materials. They also do night clear streets down to the bare pavement level. Instead, they are meant to clear a manageable path to collector and main streets and prevent deep ice ruts from forming, according to city officials.

Denver’s practice of not plowing residential streets except in special circumstances has become a mayoral campaign issue for State Sen. Chris Hansen.

Seeking to differentiate himself from a field of more than two dozen other people running for Denver mayor this year, Hansen has vowed to budget for more residential plowing if elected, something other mayoral candidates have been quick to point out could be costly.

The city is also urging people to abide by city codes around clearing snow from sidewalks after a storm. Homeowners have until the day after a snowstorm stops to shovel their walks or risk fines and commercial property owners are expected to clear sidewalks and adjacent accessibility ramps immediately after a storm stops.

Following a large storm that dumped roughly 7 inches of snow (and more in some places) on the city from Dec. 28 to 29, the city inspected more than 2,400 properties for failure to clear their sidewalks as of Jan. 12. Of those, 1,733 were given written warnings and 35 properties received fines of $150 for failing to clear their walks after being warned, officials said. One property got a second fine of $500.

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