El Paso County preps for winter season

Snow plow operator practicing with used tires / Christina Dawidowicz FOX21
Snow plow operator practicing with used tires / Christina Dawidowicz FOX21

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — The trucks are checked and the operators are trained.

“They also run the routes, look for any possible damaged roads or low trees area, hazards they may encounter during the snow removal operations. It gives us a little opportunity to go out and try to fix them prior to the first snowstorm,” said Troy Wiitala, highway manager for El Paso County’s Department of Public Works.

The department has been prepping for the winter season, and to practice, snowplow operators pushed used tires through a driving course, saying it’s the best thing that represents snow.

The county is responsible for maintaining more than 2,100 miles.

The county’s Public Services department has 134 employees dedicated to snow removal operations. With that, they’re stocked with 43 plow trucks, 23 road graders and a full stockpile of sand and salt.

“It’s usually a year-round process. We really don’t stop preparing, but as we get closer to the fall weather, we start gearing up and getting our operators trained, our new operators into position,” Wiitala said.

Doug Orr has been plowing for a little more than five years and he said he looks forward to every winter season.

“It’s stressful and it’s high paced, and sometimes you’ll go for like nine hours and you’ll realize my shift’s about over and I realized that I don’t think I’ve taken a breath in nine hours because I’m on top of it. I’m trying to stay focused and just do my job,” Orr said.

According to the Public Works department, plow trucks cover 1,200 miles of county roadways, for an average of 28 miles per truck.

“Sometimes we’re an inconvenience, but we’re the best way that they can get to work, is just to hang with us, stay back, let us get you to work safely,” Orr said.

Roads are plowed in order of their priority level. Priority one roads are main roads that get people to and from work, schools, hospitals and businesses.

>> You can check out a list of all the roads here.

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