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Snow removal big effort in Gering
January 08, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis

Photo by Kay Grote/Gering Citizen - Paul Marietta braves chilly temperatures last Friday to clear snow for parking in front of Gering Zion Church. Work continues to clear streets and parking lots due to heavy snowfall.

When a major storm dumps up to a foot of snow on the community, it not only strains traffic, but city budgets as well.
On Dec. 16, about 12 or 13 inches were left on the ground. Just as Gering city crews were getting cleaned up from that storm, another on Christmas Day dropped another six inches. So the process had to begin again.

“When we have a big storm like that, we issue a snow emergency,” said Pat Heath, Gering Director of Public Works. “Residents are prohibited from parking overnight in the designated show routes so our crews can start plowing. Once we get the main routes clear, we work on clearing the secondary routes. Drivers can often get stuck in residential neighborhoods.”

Heath said Gering has 75 miles of streets, so when city crews plow in both directions, they cover 150 miles, which takes time to get the roads open.

“By the time we get to the residential neighborhoods, a lot of people have already dug out their driveways,” he said. “When we plow the driving lanes, it usually shuts their driveways again. It’s not intentional, but it’s the only way to clear the streets.”

He added it takes two or three days to get the residential neighborhoods cleared once the storm has passed. For private residences, the best thing for homeowners to do is shovel the snow onto the lawn because the grass can utilize the moisture, even if the ground is frozen.

Cost is always a major part of cleaning up. With the snowstorm on Dec. 16, crews were called in at 3 a.m. and worked non-stop to clear the roads. They also came in on Christmas Day to plow.

“I can’t remember when we’ve had this much snow at one time,” Heath said. “I know people are frustrated, but we work with only three plows and one road grader. We have about 25 people on the crew and most of them work at night.”

Heath said the city hasn’t figured out the cost of plowing for the storms so far, but wouldn’t be surprised if it ran in the $40,000 – $50,000 range, once overtime, chemical costs and fuel are factored in.

“We’ll be over budget if we have more storms later on, which we probably will,” Heath said. “If that happens, we might have to scale back on other projects like curb repairs and spot road repairs.”

Gering Snow Removal Ordinance (abridged)

City snowplows will not clear private driveways. The snow placed in driveways by city plows is a natural result of clearing the streets and is the responsibility of the property owner to remove.
(B) Only on emergency snow routes, when plowed windrows exceed 24 inches, if time and conditions allow, the city will attempt to plow open private driveways at the curb line.
(C) Snow from a private driveway, private sidewalk, business driveway, or parking lot may not be placed on a city street.
(D) City equipment will not be used to remove piled snow or push snow away from private property or businesses. Snow will only be removed from city facilities. Using city equipment to clear snow from private property is a violation of this code unless it is necessary to allow emergency vehicles access to the private property for ambulance, fire or police calls.
Vehicles parked on a designated snow emergency route street during a declared snow emergency are subject to tow without notice to the owners, and at the owners’ expense. In addition, if a vehicle is left on a public street or alley on a designated snow route in such a fashion as to hinder snow removal, that vehicle may be towed at the expense of the owner of the vehicle, provided that an attempt was made to contact the owner to have the vehicle moved; and that either the owner could not be located, or the owner was contacted, that the owner of the vehicle failed to move the vehicle within 15 minutes after being contacted.
A violation of this chapter shall be punishable by a $50 fine.

(A) It shall be unlawful for the occupant of any lot or the owner of any vacant lot within the corporate limits of the city to suffer snow, sleet, mud, ice or other substance to accumulate on the sidewalk contiguous thereto, or to permit any hard trodden snow, sleet, ice, mud or other substance to remain upon the sidewalk; but such sidewalk shall be cleaned within five hours after the cessation of the storm, unless the storm or fall of snow shall have taken place in the nighttime, in which case the sidewalk shall be cleaned before 8:30 a.m. the following day.
(Prior Code, § 9-3-1)
(B) (1) Notice to remove such substance shall be made upon the owner of the premises, or his or her agent, the notice to demand the removal of the substance forthwith. If the person owning or occupying such premises be unknown or cannot be found, or if any reasonable service cannot be had upon any such owner, within this city, then and hi that case such service of the notice shall be made by posting a typewritten copy thereof in some conspicuous place on the premises; and in case the owner shall fail to remove the ice, snow, mud or other substance forthwith, then and in that case it shall be the duty of the Street Superintendent or other agent of the city to remove such substance, and the expense thereof shall be charged against the property and the owner thereof, and may be recovered by proper action in the name of the city or be chargeable against the property as a special assessment for improvements.
(2) In addition to the owners of any lot, or parcels of land being liable for the immediate removal of such snow, ice, sleet, mud or other substance from the walks or paths abutting their property, they may be charged upon complaint of the Street Superintendent, or other officer of the city, with committing an offense.

For Gering, snow routes include:

10th Street from J Street to U Street, 10th Street (Scottsbluff/Gering Highway) from U Street to the river bridge, M Street/Old Oregon Trail from the cemetery road east to Highway 71 bypass, Kimball Avenue from Five Rocks Road to J Street, Five Rocks Road from Robidoux Road to Country Club Road, U Street from Five Rocks Road to 10th Street, U Street from 7th Street east to city limits, S Street from 10th Street to 7th Street, 7th Street from M Street to Country Club Road and Country Club Road from 10th Street to 7th Street.

Some Gering streets are not included in the snow emergency ban during business hours, from 6 a.m. – 7 p.m. They are: 10th Street from K Street to S Street and M Street from 9th Street to 14th Street.

Designated snow routes in Scottsbluff include:

South Beltline Highway from east city limits to West Overland, Avenue I from South Beltline Highway to Highway 26, Avenue B from South Beltline Highway to 42nd Street, Broadway from South Beltline Highway to 27th Street, 5th Avenue from South Beltline Highway to 42nd Street, 21st Avenue from 7th Street to Highway 26, 27th Street from west city limits to 21st Avenue, 20th Street from South Beltline Highway to 21st Avenue, East Overland from Broadway to 21st Avenue, West Overland from Broadway to South Beltline Highway and Highway 26 from 21st Avenue to Avenue I.

Terrytown’s emergency snow routes are:

Terry Boulevard from 10th Street to Stable Club Road and Stable Club Road from Five Rocks Road to 10th Street.
People living along the snow routes will need to have their vehicles in driveways or other locations that do not interfere with the snow routes. All snow routes are posted with signs and people should become familiar with these routes and plan accordingly.

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