For the Record

Published online: Feb 16, 2017 Articles, East Idaho Outdoors
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Snow removal in Idaho Falls can be challenging, especially this winter when it all seemed to come at once.

Jacob Smith, one of the city’s snow plow truck operators, said that there is a lot of experience needed to plow from learning how much snow you can push without losing some as you go to being careful not to get stuck on anything in the snow.

“You can catch something in the middle of the snow there if you’re not careful, and it can pull the plow over and it can shoot you sideways sometimes,” Smith said.

In the case of a snow event, which the city of Idaho Falls classifies as having two or more inches of snow on the ground, snow plow operators often work long shifts. Public Information Officer Kerry Hammon said it takes crews working 12 hour shifts about 5 days to plow about 700 miles of lanes in Idaho Falls.

Following a snow event, priority 1 and 2 streets such as Hitt, 17th, and Sunnyside as well as streets in front of schools, hospitals, and fire stations are cleared first with residential and downtown streets coming next.

Several residents of Idaho Falls said that overall, they are satisfied with the city’s efforts to keep the streets plowed.

“Our streets where we live, and we live in the number streets, are plowed all the time,” said resident Sheryl Randall. “The main streets [they] plow as often as possible.”

Smith has been plowing for the city for about six years and said this year had a lot more snow than in previous years. Though there are hard days, he likes cleaning the streets as fast as possible. During the snow storm that hit on Christmas Eve, Smith remembers plowing for about four weeks without much of a break.

“Previous storms weren’t as bad at all,” Smith said. “This is a pretty bad year, I think, for storms so far.”

One of the things that can make plowing difficult is watching for traffic.

“You just got to watch, even kids during the day. They’ll try and cut out and run across the road too,” Smith said.

Many people push snow from their sidewalks and driveways back into the street which can be a problem for those trying to keep the roads clear.

“It just makes it harder on us if anybody pushes snow out in the road, especially after we’ve cleaned it,” Smith said.