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Crews, volunteers work to plow Denver's residential streets

Denver's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure said a new shift of crews started plowing at 3 a.m. Thursday.

DENVER — After a big snowstorm, residents in the West Washington Park neighborhood like Dan Rose are used to the sidewalks and roads being filled with snow. 

“I mean what makes it kind of tough is you know this weather is like the ice on the intersections and the crosswalks, trying to get across," Rose said.  

He uses a wheelchair to get around, so he depends on the crosswalks and sidewalks to be cleared enough so that he can get out and about. 

“I mean if somebody doesn’t clear their sidewalk I basically can’t go down it which really makes it hard for me to get out, do things, enjoy the outdoors or take my dog for a walk," he said. 

As for the roads, Denver's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) has had plow drivers working around the clock since 3 a.m. Wednesday. 

Nancy Kuhn, DOTI's communications manager, said 36 residential plows were out early Wednesday morning.

By 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, a crew of 15 residential plows made their way to Denver's side streets, Kuhn said. The crew is comprised of volunteers. 

Credit: Foster Gaines
A biker rides out the snow on Denver's residential streets.

“They do other jobs normally during the day and they come on board to run residential plows starting at 3 p.m. today and throughout the night," she said. 

Because the work takes a level of dedication, recruitment can seemingly vary. 

“It’s one of those things where you have to be on call and you have to be willing to stop what you’re doing if it's on a weekend, a holiday and jump in ready to plow so it’s a really dedicated group of folks willing to do that," said Kuhn. 

Early Thursday morning, Kuhn said there will be a new shift of residential plow crews taking care of Denver's side streets starting around 3 a.m.

Credit: Foster Gaines
Denver's residential streets covered in snow on Jan. 18.

Each plow has a route, and they take a single pass down the center of the residential street, she explained, with a goal to shave off the top few inches of snow to create a path toward the main streets. 

In regards to a previous snow storm that led to Denver's side streets remaining icy and bumpy for several weeks, Kuhn said by the time the city realized the forecast they were relying on was wrong, snow on most roads was already packed down. As previously reported, she said the city sent out residential plows the two days following that storm, but they didn’t improve the situation much. 

Each storm is different, but after each, the DOTI team debriefs about what ways they can improve their operations, Kuhn said. 

While the city works to keep the streets clean, homeowners and business owners are also required to shovel the sidewalks adjacent to their properties.



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