By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on January 9, 2024.
With the first snowfall of the year has come the first snow route activation of the season, and the City of Lethbridge is reminding residents to remove vehicles from these routes when they’ve been activated.
City of Lethbridge Transportation Operations manager Juliane Ruck talked to reporters Monday morning about the importance of keeping snow routes clear of vehicles to make sure plows can do their job effectively.
“Parked vehicles are very hard for our plows to maneouvre around. We don’t want to damage people’s cars so we have to be very diligent, slow down and it really slows down our whole operation. One reason to have snow routes in place is to ask people to remove their cars so our plows can operate more efficiently,” said Ruck.
Â She said when the snow routes are active, the City’s parking law enforcement officers go around issuing tickets for cars left on the snow route.
“We declared snow routes yesterday and they are active as of this morning. We have two crews of plows out this morning, one on this side of the city (south) right now and one on the west side. We will try to tackle all of our 80 kilometres of snow routes over the next two days,” said Ruck.
She said in the spring of 2022 the transportation department offered city council options on providing more plowing services to residents and as a result more kilometres were added to plowing routes.
Â “Last year we plowed 25 kilometres in Phase 1, and this year we are doing 80 kilometres total,” said Ruck.
Â She said this year the department was prepared for the first snowfall. They have actually been ready for a while since Lethbridge usually experiences snowfalls earlier in the season.
Â “We were lucky over November and December, and now we finally have ideal weather for plowing because the roads are dry and cold, so snow easily gets removed when we come by with our plow trucks and we are able to scrape the snow off,” said Ruck.
Â She said during October and November the City tried to inform everybody about the snow routes through advertising, which included mailing postcards as well as recommending the use of the Loop app to stay informed.
Â “Additionally, we also have a snowplow tracker where residents can track where our plows are and if our snow routes are active or not. We change the colour of snow routes if they are active. Right now, they are showing light blue. That means they are active, and we are coming into your neighbourhood and plowing along your street,” said Ruck.
The City has a total of 12 trucks, and depending on mechanical issues and staff, they hope to have all of them operating.
Â “We have plow trucks and staff ready to go. We are working 24/7 over the next couple of days – and there is more snow on the forecast for Tuesday night, Wednesday and Thursday, so we hope to have most of our priority routes and snow routes tackled by then so we can reset and start over again when the new snow event starts,” said Ruck.
She said all City plows come equipped with sand and salt, which are applied to roads during plowing.
Â “When they plow they also apply sand and salt which helps a lot to activate the ice and snow, so we can come back in 10 to 12 hours and plow it again, because then it’s loosened up and it’s easier to remove from the road,” said Ruck.
She said the overall weather forecast for the season expects a lower snowfall than usual but City hopes there is some snow, so they can activate the snow routes more and give people an opportunity to learn about them and stay on point.
“Everybody has heard about the drought so our weather forecast confirms it that there will be less than normal snow for the season but there will still be a couple of events. It is southern Alberta, and the weather is unpredictable,” said Ruck.