It takes a team effort to remove snow that has piled up high after a big storm. Douglas County, the Highlands Ranch Metro District and local homeowners are all expected to do their share, but sometimes there is confusion about plowing priorities and the criteria for mobilizing in certain locations.
Residents living in cul-de-sacs, for example, might not know they are last on the list, resulting in frustration for homeowners and a stream of angry phone calls for Douglas County’s Public Works Department. The difficulty of maneuvering in a small area takes considerable time, and an absence of through traffic renders Highlands Ranch’s 700 cul-de-sacs a low priority.
Drivers are instructed to make one pass through a cul-de-sac and place the snow between driveways, said Randy Teague, director of operations for the county’s public works department. He acknowledged that it takes more work for property owners to make it out of their driveways, but clearing all cul-de-sacs completely would take days.
Douglas County is responsible for plowing roughly 2,400 miles of roadway, with major arterials being addressed first. Teague said the major roads take precedent because vehicles travel at higher speeds and the ice poses an increased safety hazard.
It is often the residential streets, however, that get the most attention from the people of Highlands Ranch. Side streets are third on the priority list, which means the snow can become packed down, icy and rutted in the hours or days before the plows arrive.
Kathy Hahn, who lives in the Westridge area, said the streets around her home are consistently ignored by snowplow drivers.
“Even with a foot of snowfall, sometimes we don’t see them at all,” she said. “Then, I’ll see them on busy roads that are just wet and don’t need it.”
Fines are assessed to property owners who fail to clear snow from their driveways and sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowstorm. Hahn suggested that the county be subject to the same penalties when its plow drivers do not clear residential streets.
Teague says a different plan is created based on the circumstances of each storm. Douglas County does not plow residential streets if officials expect the snow to melt within 48 hours.
The average snow storm produces roughly 25-50 phone calls, Teague says, with some applauding the efforts of drivers. However, a storm that hit the area around Christmas resulted in 60 complaints. The county appreciates both good and bad feedback because it enables them to tailor their approach in the future, Teague said.
The Highlands Ranch Metro District clears the way at fire stations, parking lots at area parks, and 112 miles of sidewalks, including pedestrian routes to schools, but only after three or more inches of snow has fallen and it’s likely to remain on the ground for more than 24 hours. The district promotes awareness of responsibilities each fall.
“Every year with the number of new residents still moving into Highlands Ranch, or people who have lived here only a short time, we receive many calls asking about snow removal responsibilities and the services provided by Douglas County and the Highlands Ranch Metro District,” said Sherry Eppers, community relations manager for the HRMD.
In early 2009, Castle Rock installed devices in its plows that use geographic information system mapping data to track their location as they wind through the streets. The system even provides residents with an estimated time frame for when the plows will reach areas that have not been cleared yet.
Visitors at crgov.com can also see where the plows have been with a system that utilizes a “bread crumb” trail, or a series of dots on a street map. Castle Rock officials introduced the innovative device to help improve communication with the public and reduce snow removal costs.
ARCM Snow and Ice Removal Highlands Ranch
Snow / Weather Updates
**There are no updates at this time.**
If you are facing a life-threatening emergency, call 911.
For other snow and ice related problems on Douglas County roads please contact Public Works Operations at 303.660-7480.
During a storm all snow removal equipment is dedicated to high-traffic County roadways to ensure safe passage of emergency vehicles.
Snow removal on neighborhood streets will begin when the snow storm concludes.
Crews work a 24-hour-per-day schedule to remove snow until all County roadways (including neighborhood streets) are open and passable.
When shoveling driveways and sidewalks, residents are asked to place snow on lawns not in the street.
When it snows, please remove vehicles from residential streets to allow safe passage of snow removal equipment.
For statewide road conditions please visit www.cotrip.org/home.htm
Snow and Ice Removal Information
Because every snowstorm has varying characteristics – temperature, moisture content, wind velocity and storm duration, etc. – Public Works Operations (PW Ops) initiates a snow removal plan that is unique to each individual storm. The primary focus is always on public safety.
In the case of major blizzards, Public Works Operations will develop a plan and place the information on the Douglas County website home page. The information is updated as necessary to keep the website current with changing conditions.
Snow removal planning efforts for a snow storm begin as soon as forecasts of impending weather events are received from the National Weather Service and Skyview Weather. Snow forecasts are continually monitored to determine when the storm will arrive, what snow accumulations can be expected, storm intensity, and what air temperatures can be anticipated.
Planning for Snow Removal – Each Storm Calls for a Unique Approach
The plan includes:
Number of snowplows and personnel required:
The number of personnel and type of snow removal equipment are determined based upon the anticipated strength of the storm. Personnel from PW Ops and other County departments are deployed when snow starts falling.
Number of shifts and length of shifts for drivers:
Snow removal personnel are notified of anticipated start times based upon available weather data. Douglas County typically assigns personnel to two 12-hour shifts with the major workforce deployed during the daylight hours to assist rush-hour traffic. A limited number of units are deployed during evening hours to keep roads open, continue widening operations, and to respond to requests for emergency assistance. If you have an emergency during a snow storm, call 911 for assistance.
Determining what products are most appropriate for the road surfaces:
Douglas County utilizes both liquid and granular de-icing products depending upon the location of the road, temperature of the pavement, and potential for re-freezing. Liquid anti-icing products are sometimes applied to arterial roadways (major roadways) prior to snow storms. Anti-icing products can only be applied when temperatures are suitable. These products help to minimize the bonding of snow to pavement surfaces. Granular deicers are applied to melt snow and ice whenever present. Materials containing a blend of salt and sand are often applied to roadways to provide extra traction at curves, hills, and intersections.
Prioritization of Roadways for Snow Removal
The County’s snow removal network and priority schedule can be viewed on the map below. County maintained roads are plowed based on the following prioritization criteria.
Arterial roadways are always addressed first. These are major roadways with high traffic volumes and high operating speeds that provide critical access and links within the County. The majority of the County’s snow removal equipment is needed to keep arterial roadways safe for travel. Clearing these roads is a top priority to ensure safe access for emergency vehicles, provide adequate land width for traffic, and minimize surface re-icing. Because arterials are critical to the transportation and emergency needs of the County, snow removal equipment will remain on arterial roadways until the snow storm dissipates. There are 637 lane miles of arterial roadways considered to be a top priority for snow removal in the County’s road network.
Collector roadways/school bus routes: Once snowfall subsides and arterial roadways have been cleared and are safe, equipment is deployed to plow collector roadways and school bus routes. Collector roadways distribute traffic between arterial roadways and residential streets and often serve as links between subdivisions. Collector roadways normally do not provide direct access to private property.
Local streets and cul-de-sacs: Local streets and cul-de-sacs provide for low and moderate traffic volumes within subdivisions and provide direct access to residences or private property. The plowing of local streets and cul-de-sacs is typically addressed after arterial and collector roadways have been cleared. All local streets and cul-de-sacs are plowed during every storm unless accumulations are minor and are expected to melt the following day.
What to expect prior to, during and after the storm
Subdivision streets are not plowed if parked vehicles or other obstructions interfere with the safe and continuous operation of snow removal equipment. Equipment may return to plow after obstructions are moved. When a snow storm is forecast, residents are advised to move vehicles off the street if a snow storm is forecast to allow safe access by snowplows.
During heavy snow storms, plows will often clear lanes simultaneously
Multiple snowplows often plow together to remove snow from multi-lane streets. This results in a more efficient operation and eliminates piles of snow in the roadway that may become obstructions to vehicles. When you see this process in action, please give equipment adequate room to operate. Do not drive within a snowplow operator’s blind spot as he/she is not able to see you. For personal safety, never pass a snow plow that is engaged in snow removal. Snow and ice that comes off the plow blade can damage your vehicle or greatly obstruct your vision.
Douglas County clears all roadways according to priority until conditions are safe for travel. Cul-de-sacs and some local streets may not be plowed if accumulations are minor and snow is expected to melt over the following 24-hours. Exceptions to this are made if the streets have hills or curves that may become icy and hazardous to traffic.
What to expect after the storm
Depending upon temperatures, wind velocities and the extent of snow melt, crews may have to widen travel lanes, remove ice, and perform other operations for up to several days after a snow event. Snow from adjacent properties can melt and re-freeze overnight, creating ice buildup on the street. To report ice buildup on a street, please call 303.660.7480.
Snow and ice can be dangerous for all ages, but especially for children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities who are more susceptible to injury. When sidewalks are not cleared of snow and ice, pedestrians will often leave the snow and ice covered sidewalks and move out into the street creating a safety concern. This safety concern is amplified when children on their way to or from school or to and from the bus are walking in the street because sidewalks are not passable.
For these reasons, property owners in unincorporated Douglas County are required to remove snow and ice from the sidewalks adjacent to their property within 24 hours after it stops snowing. Citizens are advised to place snow from their sidewalks and driveways on adjacent landscaped areas, and NOT in the public right-of-way.
Please do not place snow in the street because it will result in larger windrows in front of your home. Additionally, piles of snow in the area of the gutter will inhibit drainage resulting in buildups of ice in the gutter and on the sidewalk. Citizens are advised to place all snow removed from sidewalks and driveways on adjacent landscaped areas. This practice will benefit the vegetation, reduce the amount of runoff, and will help to manage the amount of snow and ice in the street.
Automobiles and other vehicles left parked on County roads during a winter storm make it difficult for snow plows to remove snow and ice.
Parked vehicles may be surrounded by a snow windrow which increases the potential for damage to these vehicles and to motorists driving around them.
Frequently Asked Questions regarding Snow and Ice Removal
Why doesn’t the County plow my street when they go by?
Routes are plowed on a priority basis with arterial roadways, collector roadways and school routes being top priorities. Clearing those roadways first enables emergency services to gain access into all residential areas normally with a few blocks of each residence.
Are cul-de-sacs plowed after every storm?
Local streets and cul-de-sacs are plowed after every storm unless the snow is expected to melt over the following 24 hours. An exception is made if the street has hills and curves that could become hazardous to motorists.
Who is responsible for clearing sidewalks?
Residents are responsible for clearing driveways and sidewalks within 24 hours after a snow storm to allow safe use by pedestrians. This is particularly important along school pedestrian routes to prevent children from having to walk in the street. It is required that owners place snow from their driveways and sidewalks onto their front yard and not into the street. This practice reduces the number of icy areas on streets and ensures proper drainage flow into the storm sewer. Additionally, your lawn can use the available moisture over the winter.
After the storm, the snowplow came through and pushed snow back into my driveway entrance.
Cleanup and widening operations often take place one to four days after the snow storm, depending upon the severity of the storm and wind conditions. It is often necessary to widen roads to ensure that ice and snow melts from the pavement surface to keep driving lanes open. Unfortunately, subsequent widening operations may push snow back onto sidewalks and driveways.
What if I have an emergency and my street isn’t plowed?
If an emergency situation occurs, call 911. Equipment will be diverted for emergencies ONLY WHEN REQUESTED BY AN EMERGENCY SERVICE AGENCY OR THE DOUGLAS COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT. The Sheriff’s Department is in constant communication with PW Ops personnel during snow events so snow removal equipment can be detoured to assist with emergency response. It should be noted that it is a crime to make a false emergency request.
Who is responsible for damaged mailboxes?
Mailboxes installed along roadways are at the risk of the owner. Mailboxes damaged from lack of owner maintenance, heavy snow from plowing, or vandalism is not the responsibility of the County. Postal regulations require residents to clean snow from in front of mailboxes to allow for mail delivery. Douglas County encourages the clustering of individual mailboxes to minimize potential damage during snow storms and allow for mail to delivered efficiently. To learn more about mailbox clustering, please call 303.660.7480.
Snow Removal Districts and Available Equipment
Douglas County has five snow removal districts located geographically throughout the County. Each district has assigned personnel and equipment with responsibility for the roads within that particular district. Douglas County snowplow units are white with the Douglas County logo. Motor graders are yellow with the Douglas County logo on the side.
A map of the five snow removal districts and a list of snow removal equipment available within those districts is available on this page under Additional Resources.
Potholes in pavement
Freeze/thaw effects on pavement can rapidly form potholes. Crews are dispatched as quickly as possible to repair potholes that create a hazardous condition. Please report potholes by calling 303.660.7480, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost of Snow and Ice Removal
Planning for snow and ice removal begins with annual budgeting for this important public safety service. The average cost per winter season – to manage snow and ice – is about $3.1 million. This includes personnel, equipment, de-icing products and fuel. Overall this cost equates to approximately $50.00 per household, per year, for unincorporated Douglas County households (cities and towns excluded) or, on average, $1.70 per household, per storm.
Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) System
Douglas County has implemented an Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) system to assist in snow removal operations. The AVL system will be used as a management tool to track vehicles to provide operator safety, help with equipment deployment and storm management. This system allows management staff to view the progress of snow removal operations during storms and can be monitored from Douglas County Emergency Operations Center, the PW Ops Facility, or from supervisor’s vehicles. Based upon information from the AVL system, supervisory staff can move resources to accommodate changing weather conditions and move resources from one snow removal district to another to maximize productivity and efficiency. This system also enables the most efficient use of equipment when assisting emergency services (ambulances, fire equipment, and law enforcement) during blizzards.
Assistance from Contractors
During major snowstorms like those in 2006-2007, contractors were heavily utilized throughout the County to assist staff in snow removal activities. Contractors supplemented County operations with front-end loaders and motor graders on residential streets to clear ice and snow pack. The County maintains a list of qualified contractors and incorporates them into the snow removal operation plan when needed.
There are many roads running through Douglas County – who is responsible for which roads?
Douglas County is responsible for the maintenance of approximately 2,345 lane miles of roads in unincorporated areas of the County. Of these roads, approximately 1,745 lane miles are paved and 600 lane miles are gravel. Roads within incorporated municipalities, are maintained by each respective municipality.
In addition, there are many roads within the County that are privately maintained.
Seven major state highways pass through Douglas County which are maintained by the Colorado Department of Transportation. These highways are:
A portion of Highway 67 from Highway 85 to Rampart Range Road
A portion of Highway 105 from Highway 67 to Wolfensberger Road
E-470 is maintained by the E-470 Highway Authority
Snow Removal Service Denver, Colorado
In Colorado a HUGE variable in the winter months with the weather. Not knowing when it is, or isn’t going to snow is always an obstacle. Here at Highlands Ranch Snow Removal & Plowing we offer Snow Removal for those that don’t have time, can’t or just don’t want to deal with the snow around their homes. We take a lot of pride in offering this service as we offer, Commercial snow plowing, residential snow plowing, snow throwers& blowers, Salting and De-icing and hand shoveling.
Commercial Snow Plowing
Highlands Ranch Snow Removal & Plowing is your top 1 choice for Denver commercial snow removal services. We offer commercial plowing which serves to create and maintain access to your business, parking lot, driveway and sidewalks. We are competitively priced and ready at the drop of a hat to attend to all your Littleton, Lakewood, and Denver area snow plowing needs.
Residential Snow Plowing
What’s worse than stepping out of your front door the day after a huge Denver snow storm and having to trudge through a few feet of snow just to get to your car? At Aspen Valley Lawn we understand that you don’t always have the time or energy to clear the snow from your home’s sidewalks, driveway, patio, and other surfaces. Our Littleton snow removal professional pride themselves on always on-time and professional, providing the best possible service for your money and ensuring that your Littleton, Lakewood, and Denver area snow plowing experience is one that you can truly feel good about. For all your Denver CO snow removal needs, call Highlands Ranch Snow Removal & Plowing Service today!
Snow Throwers & Blowers
While there is no job too small for our professional snow removal services, we aren’t exactly a small-time Denver snow removal company. We employ and rigorously maintain a variety of different snow removal equipment to ensure we are able to complete any snow removal job that you have, with the greatest degree of efficacy possible. In addition to good old fashioned snow plows, we also have snow throwers and blowers to ensure that no snow remains in those critical areas surrounding your house or business.
Salting & De-Icing
As a property owner in Denver Colorado you know how icy your decks, porches, and sidewalks can get, and this creates considerable danger for anyone on your property, whether it be family, employees, or customers of your business. When the Denver temperatures plummet, and your sidewalks and entrances get icy, don’t risk injuries to yourself or others. Highlands Ranch Snow Removal & Plowing will attend to all your winter salting and de-icing needs with competitive pricing and timely, effective work. Let Highlands Ranch Snow Removal & Plowing protects you and yours from the dangers of slippery walk ways with our premier salting and de-icing services.
Other Snow Removal Locations:
Aurora Snow Removal
Arvada Snow Removal
Centennial Snow Removal & Plowing
Englewood Snow Removal & Plowing
Golden Snow Removal & Plowing
Highlands Ranch Snow Removal & Plowing
Lakewood Snow Removal & Plowing
Littleton Snow Removal & Plowing
Safety is Important When Shoveling
When most people think of health risks associated with shoveling snow, they tend to think of muscle strains and back problems. While muscle strains are, indeed, a concern, for many people middle-aged and older, the greater danger is suffering a heart attack. Research has shown that shoveling snow for just ten minutes puts similar strain on your heart as running on a treadmill till you drop. It's that strenuous. Meanwhile, exposure to the cold causes your body to constrict your blood vessels?a recipe for a heart attack. In fact, snow shoveling is commonly cited as the primary factor in elevated heart attack rates during the winter months.
As for your back, whenever possible avoiding lifting a snow-filled shovel. Instead, push the snow off your sidewalks, driveways, walkways, etc. If you must lift the snow, you should face the direction you're lifting and avoid twisting as much as possible. If you begin to feel sore or fatigued, stop shoveling and try again later.
Snow Shoveling Safety Tips
Don't shovel soon after you wake up. A slipped disc injury is much more likely to occur in the morning due to the build-up of fluid in the disc from lying down all night.
Check with your doctor if you have even reason to believe shoveling snow might present a health hazard, particularly any heart condition.
Use multiple layers of clothing, shed layers to avoid becoming overheated, and use slip-resistant boots.
Spray or rub some type of lubricant on the shovel to keep snow from sticking to your shovel?the lighter the load, the better.
Before you start, drink some water to stay hydrated, and stretch like you would for any strenuous activity.
Take frequent breaks.
The False Security of the Snow Thrower
Loathe to shovel their snow, many homeowners own a snow thrower. It may seem almost too easy, getting out there with a high-powered snow, while your neighbor labors and heaves with a manual shovel. According to the Center for Disease Control and United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, snow thrower-related injuries account for 4,000-6,000 emergency room visits each year. More than 1,000 of these injuries will result in maiming or amputations.
Unfortunately, too many people take snow thrower safety for granted until injuries occur. Most recently, NHL center Joe Sakic broke three fingers and damaged tendons by reaching into the snow thrower. This is the most common snow thrower injury, as most people don't realize, despite manufacturer warnings, that the augur blades can continue to rotate even after the machine has been shut off. Despite recent quotes from Avalanche VP Jean Martineau, who was defending Sakic's use of a snow thrower despite a bad back, using a snow thrower involves a lot more than "just going for a walk."
Alternatives to Snow Shovels and Snow Throwers
Obligated to keep their sidewalks clear, many homeowners may feel like they have few snow removal options, especially if their neighborhood doesn't have the entrepreneurial teenager. While most people know professional snow removal services are out there, few realize that contacting these professionals can be as easy as a few mouse clicks. Internet users can easily find an online referral service that will match homeowners with local contactors. Ironically, the industry leader for online home improvement referrals, ServiceMagic, is actually headquartered in Lakewood, CO, some 9 miles from the Pepsi Center?home of Joe Sakic's Colorado Avalanche.
Have a Snow Removal Plan
This is the silver bullet for safely removing snow from your property. From young residents who are trying to get down on expenses as much as possible to older homeowners who need a low-maintenance solution to their snow-covered sidewalks, devising a plan, long before the snow begins to fall, that will ensure your health and safety is critical to handling the winter season.