Winter weather not busting city's budget

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When the snow started falling at about sunset Wednesday, Craig Road and Bridge Director Ran--dy Call had to make a decision: Go with overnight plowing oper--ations or wait until morning.

"We flipped a coin," Call said. "We had a few streets that were having problems, and we decided to call in our drivers and plow all night."

The work of the 12 plow trucks meant streets were relatively clear in Craig for Thursday morning drivers. Pol--ice reported no serious traffic problems Thursday.

Despite the blast of snow Wednesday, Call said it has been a relatively mild winter and relatively easy on the department's budget.

"We don't really budget for snow," he said. "What we look at is parts and fuel mostly. Where the snowfall affects us is in the overtime we pay out to keep the roads clear."

The Colorado Department of Transportation is responsible for keeping state highways plowed.

CDOT's maintenance area for Craig encompasses five counties and 1,622 miles of highway. The area is maintained with 57 plow trucks, 19 front-end loaders and 12 motor graders. When the drifts get too big, CDOT can call in three snow blowers and three dozers.

Keeping roads clear in winter doesn't come cheap, but CDOT Transportation Superintendent Kandace Lukow said the Craig section is staying within budget this year.

"There has been high snowfall amounts east of Craig," she said. "But just last week, it was warm here, and we were actually filling potholes on West Victory Way."

In Moffat County, CDOT has about 17 plows stationed in Craig, Maybell and Elk Springs.

CDOT Transportation Maintenance Supervisor Les Anderson spent the day Thursday driving in Browns Park and checking out snow-removal efforts in the remote regions of Moffat County. He said trucks were out as soon as snow started falling Wednesday.

"That shift was just starting, so they went right to plowing." Anderson said. "From Hayden to Winter Park, it's been a big winter. On Rabbit Ears Pass especially."

He said his department is "still in the black," though he's glad winter is wrapping up.

With less snow in the Craig area this winter, his crews have been "crack-pouring and filling potholes," Anderson said. "Also, the elk this season have us in the fence-fixing business. We're like an emergency response team, tackling problems as they come up."

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