By Corey Thompson
You gotta love snow if you live in Red Lodge! According to the National Weather Service, our town, on average, receives 24 inches of precipitation annually, with not quite half of that in the form of snowfall. That translates to an average amount of 105 inches of snow, a lot to move around.
Snow removal is a constant battle here in town. Skip Boyer, head of Public Works in Red Lodge, refused to meet with the Local Rag, but our new and perennial mayor, Brian Roat, was more than happy to answer some questions.
What equipment does the city use for snow removal? The city uses two road graders, two trucks with plows, and a tractor with a bucket loader.
What manpower is available? There are four people in the crew, who drop everything else when the snow falls to take care of the roads. However, if it snows on a weekend, a minimal crew will work on overtime to get the job done.
Is there a master scheme for snow removal? First of all, the roads to the hospital, clinics, and schools are opened. Then two passes are made on all city streets to open traffic lanes, alleys are opened up, and then the crew goes back and widens and replows everything that has already been plowed. Since Highway 212 is a state road, the state has the responsibility to clear it. However, the city is responsible for plowing Waterworks Road to the sewer ponds. The city limits stretch west to include the golf course area by Willow Creek Road, as well as north to Two Mile Bridge.
Does the city have a budget for snow removal? There is no specific budget, but the city tries to estimate the amount of fuel needed each year.
Are chemicals used to melt snow? Magnesium chloride, a salt used as a thawing agent, is mixed with sand and used in key intersections.
What kinds of obstacles are there to plowing city streets? Dead cars, or cars that obviously haven't been moved for quite some time, are ticketed. Mayor Roat is determined to make towing them a priority, as they severely hamper snow removal and are a community eyesore.
What about odd/even parking? The city has a law that regulates odd and even parking during the winter months, but Mayor Roat said that this is not enforced for two reasons: 1) Plowing is done immediately during or after most snowfalls, within one day, and so parking on the odd side of the street one day and the even on the next day would not be helpful for snow removal, and 2) enforcement of this ordinance raises other issues.
What about 2-hour parking limit areas? This includes the Central Business District of Broadway, which extends from Broadway east and west to Platt Street and Hauser Street, and along Broadway from 8th Street through 13th Street. This is in effect year-round, not just during snow removal months. Following a snowstorm, parking is prohibited between the hours of 2 am and 7 am in the Central Business District area, excluding Broadway itself.
What about sidewalk snow removal? The city takes care of sidewalk snow removal by city property including government offices, all the parks, and those by the city pool. Mayor Roat said that it is current city law that each property owner be responsible for their own sidewalk snow removal. Don't forget to shovel all the way to the street at intersections. The mayor would also like to urge all citizens to please clear all snow around fire hydrants and trash bins.
Does anyone ever get ticketed for parking and snow removal abuses? "Eventually, but we don't even deal with it unless someone complains," said the mayor. "I like to treat everyone like I'd like to treat your grandma, at least for starters."
So what if my neighbor never clears their sidewalk? Or someone parks right in front of my business on Broadway for hours on end? Or has an obviously dead car that hasn't moved for quite some time? Or is unhappy about the city's snowplowing? Please contact Mayor Roat, who would be more than happy to personally take care of each situation on an individual basis. He can be reached at email@example.com, or by calling City Hall at 446 1606.
"We've got a great crew doing a great job out there," declared Mayor Brian Roat.
As a side note, in a random survey of Red Lodge residents, not one person expressed satisfaction with the snow removal being done in town, and Skip Boyer refused to discuss it with the Local Rag. So if you like the town's snow removal system, make sure you get in touch with Mayor Roat; otherwise he may get nothing but complaint calls!
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