Washoe County Roads Crews Operating 24 hr Shifts to Plow Roads; Asks for Public’s Help As Storms Continue and Budget Reduction Impacts Are Felt

Washoe County’s roads crews began their day at 3 a.m. this morning to plow roads in the unincorporated areas so commuters could get to work. With a series of storms expected to continue over the next couple days, crews are gearing up for continuous snow plowing efforts through the weekend.

According to Roads Superintendent Bill Oroszi, here in the Truckee Meadows Washoe County has 21 snow plows, 2 loader plows and 2 backhoes equipped with specialty blades to aid in snow removal efforts. (Incline Village has 9 loader plows and one truck plow dedicated to that area alone.) However, reduced staffing as well as restrictions on how long snow plow operators can work the heavy equipment require overtime and can restrict response in a long-term event. With the series of winter storms forecast to hit our area this week, the County is asking for the public’s help to help them keep roads in the unincorporated areas open. Here’s some basic tips you can follow to help county snow plow operators: • Keep your vehicles and garbage cans off the streets so that the snowplow can plow your entire street. • If you shovel your driveway, don’t dump the snow on the sidewalk or roadway. • Be visible to snow plow operators by maintaining a safe distance behind them. • Understand that your road will be plowed in accordance to the regional snow plan which prioritizes which roads get cleared first.

Links to the County’s snow plow plan, driving tips and other useful information is located on the County’s website at www.washoecounty.us; just click on the “read more” link on the photo of winter driving.

With about one-fourth less staff than two years ago, the county’s Roads Division wants to remind folks that it may take a little longer to totally clear roads but they are committed to doing the best job possible in keeping all unincorporated roads open and safe as possible. In the event of a significant winter storm event, snow plow operators typically make one pass in and out to plow or sand a road, and then return when possible to widen the pass. Roads are plowed according to the priority given them in the regional snow plan (see county’s website).

“Our snow plan calls for clearing of priority one roads first which are arterials and collectors,” Oroszi explained. “In the unincorporated areas of the county that we serve, those comprise about 5% of the roads, with the remainder of the roads in neighborhoods which are typically priority two roads and even priority three if they are cul-de-sacs or dead-end streets. We might not be able to get to the priority three streets for a day or so if the storms really hit us hard.”

Oroszi also notes that further budget reductions required to meet the projected $33.5 million deficit the County faces in the 2011-12 fiscal year would require the elimination of five pieces of equipment currently used in snow removal efforts. The proposed reduction does not include additional action that may be needed to address the $25 million impact the County would also bear if Governor Sandoval’s proposed state budget that calls for local property tax revenues to be redirected to the State is approved by the Legislature.

Washoe County thanks the public in advance for their cooperation in helping our snow plow operators meet the challenges these storms as well as our budget situation present, and advise motorists to stay off the roads as much as possible during poor visibility and extreme weather.