DPW road crews prepare for winter storms

By Susan C. Galentine, Directorate of Public WorksNovember 1, 2023

DPW road crews prepare for winter storms
(T&H Services courtesy photo) A Directorate of Public Works operations and maintenance contractor clears snow on Fort Carson roads after a storm. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT CARSON, Colo. — Colorado winter is on its way along with unpredictable weather often bringing snow and ice on the heels of warmer temperatures from one day to the next, challenging road crews and commuters alike.

The Directorate of Public Works (DPW) operations and maintenance contractor, T&H Services, is tasked with keeping roads safe for drivers on Fort Carson. The contractor monitors forecasts for winter storms from the National Weather Service, local television station weather reports and from the Butts Army Heliport Weather Station, often planning and preparing days in advance of forecasted winter storm.

Winter storms in the Front Range vary in severity and moisture type. Trying to predict what the installation will face during each storm, snow, ice or both, along with the impact of high winds, is difficult to impossible to determine.

As part of the planning process for an impending storm, the contractor sends situation reports to the DPW and the Fort Carson Operations Center (FCOC) on their plan of action throughout a storm, on road clearing progress and until the final cleanup is accomplished. The purpose of the reports is to provide the FCOC insight on the response so that the installation command can make the appropriate calls for Soldiers and civilians reporting for work.

The road crews begin plowing operations when the snow depth reaches three inches. If snowfall begins overnight, the contractor prepares roads for the morning commute on post depending on how much snow is coming down and how much is projected. When roads require plowing, their operations continue until snow has stopped falling and the snow routes are safe for vehicle traffic.

After the snowfall stops, plowing for cleanup occurs between the hours of 4 a.m. and 6 p.m. The contractor also checks the emergency snow routes in the morning to address any icing conditions. When plowing operations occur during the normal workday, contractor plows keep emergency snow route roads as safe as possible throughout the day.

When it snows on post, it is impossible to take it down to black pavement without damaging roads and equipment.

Icy conditions pose a particular challenge to road crews, which focus primarily on deicing intersections, hills and curves, where vehicle tires can spread the deicer along the road. During storm events, roughly 50 to 75 tons of deicer is used on roads, according to contractor records.

Deicer cannot be applied to all roads, and as part of snowstorm management, the road crews rely heavily on sunshine and temperatures rising during the day to melt the snow and ice.

Colorado storms at times wreak havoc with the start and end of the duty day on post adding a twist to effective road clearing efforts. This scenario can create an issue where snowplows must navigate around heavy traffic to deal with the snow-packed, slippery roads.

Ultimately, being prepared is key to winter driving success, including having good tires, driving at safe speeds, ensuring extra distance between cars and allowing extra time for trips.

For more information about DPW snow removal procedures, call 719-725-8083 or email bryan.s.dorcey.civ@army.mil.

Balfour Beatty Communities manages Fort Carson Family Homes snow removal. Fort Carson Families living on post can call 719-579-1606, ext. 1, for more information.

DPW outlines sidewalk snow removal procedures

Fort Carson requires that occupants of military or civilian government facilities be responsible for clearing snow and ice on sidewalks leading from their doorstep to the first mainline sidewalk along parking lots or roadways. (This includes steps and ramps). This is known as the 50-foot rule where units/organizations have responsibility for snow/ice clearing around their buildings.

Government facility occupants can get two free boxes of ice melt per building from the Directorate of Public Works operations and maintenance contractor supply warehouse, building 8100, located at the corner of O’Connell Boulevard and Bennett Street on the north side of the cantonment. Supply warehouse hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. For supply warehouse questions, call 719-526-3989.

On-post Fort Carson Family Homes residents can get information about snow and ice removal by referring to their resident guide or contacting their Balfour Beatty Communities leasing specialist.