Some question snow plow response to Tuesday storm

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SALT LAKE CITY -- With all the problems on the road Tuesday, some drivers wondered if street and highway crews were doing the job the way they should have.

It was the kind of storm no one likes at rush hour: cold air; cold ground; snow that hits and sticks, turning regular commutes into ordeals.

"Takes me 25 minutes to get from the west side to downtown, but today it took me a couple of hours. Traffic was really bad," said West Jordan resident Michael Johnson.

Government folks laid part of the blame on drivers, while some drivers pointed the finger the other direction.

**Did you know…**
• There are 498 snowplow trucks, 87 wing attachments for plows and 511 salt and sand spreaders statewide • Snow crews are responsible for clearing and maintaining more than 16,300 lane miles of roadway, excluding shoulders • Interstates, highways and high volume roads, including 300 West, State Street and 700 East in Salt Lake City are typically UDOT's snow removal priorities *-UDOT*
"We've got scattered crashes everywhere," said Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Jeff Nigbur. "I was surprised not to see the roads more heavily plowed," said South Jordan resident Spencer Viernes.

Officials said de-icing crews were out Monday night, and snowplows were out in force by 3 a.m. Tuesday, but they just couldn't keep up.

"They were plowing the canyons. They were plowing the interstates. They were plowing the secondaries," said Adan Carrillo, spokesman for the Utah Department of Transportation.

But many drivers, and KSL's weather camera, observed major thoroughfares like 300 West unplowed for hours.

**Did you know…**
![](• UDOT is operating its first [TowPlow]( this winter season. Two new TowPlows, which are an attachment pulled behind a standard snow plow that can swing to the side, allow a single truck to clear two or more lanes in one pass • UDOT uses road weather forecast teams, video cameras near remote mountain passes and GPS technology to monitor conditions, respond in a timely manner and efficiently clear snow and de-ice roads • GPS tracking allows UDOT to monitor the amount of salt being placed on Utah roads; ensuring roads are not over salted. Additionally, the use of GPS technology allows UDOT to track idol time and engine functionality resulting in decreased maintenance costs *- UDOT*
"300 West is not, it's a secondary route," Carrillo said. "It's not a priority route, such as I-15." Officials also said the plows get snarled in traffic just like everyone else.

"The snowplows plowed the best they could," Johnson said. "But with traffic on the roads, it's a little bit hard."

A complication with moveable barriers on I-15 is forcing a change in UDOT policy. The barriers squeezed southbound Davis County commuters into two lanes instead of three Tuesday morning because the barriers were left in the afternoon rush hour position.

During their scheduled move before rush hour Tuesday morning, snowpack obscured the lanes so badly the barriers couldn't be safely repositioned. UDOT didn't move the barriers Monday night before the storm because they had never seen a storm create this kind of complication.

"We're not going to take the same chances anymore," UDOT's Adan Carrillo said. "If there's a snowstorm coming up, we'll make the effort to move the barriers the night before so they're ready to go the next day."

Carrillo said the incident is "a lesson learned." He said UDOT will move those barriers Tuesday night to get ready for the morning rush -- it's the new plan from now on.

That should mean a little less aggravation for those southbound commuters.


Story compiled with contributions from John Hollenhorst and Marc Giauque.

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