Thank You Caltrans and County Snow Removal!

Well, having had about two inches of snow last year everybody was hoping for more snow this year if for no other reason than the potential fire issues when there’s so little rain and snow.

Congratulations on your latest book, Rhea.
Thank you Caltrans and county snow removal employees! What would we do without you? We’d never get out!

Well, we got it, all right and the deep snow took a toll on a lot of people. It was good to see so many people help my neighbor (including me) when she got really stuck on Outer Hwy. 18 and Allview. Nobody was expecting so much snow (and it’s still snowing….) so she got stuck. I gave what aid I could by loaning her daughter a shovel but she also got help from members of the wonderful Scullin family. The driver finally got out but not before the county plows came and plowed out Outer Hwy. 18 and then Caltrans showed up to clear Allview.

One of the things that many residents forget it that the County of San Bernardino has many, many more miles of roads to plow than the state (Caltrans) has and therefore it takes much longer for the county plows to get to all the areas, especially when there is a big snowfall as we are experiencing now.

Caltrans (a combination of California and Transportation which forms the word Caltrans) only plows the state highways. On the other hand, all the roads in the mountains that are not highways (such as Hwy. 18, 330, 173, etc.) are all plowed by the County of San Bernardino. I have forgotten how many miles of roads that entails but it is several hundred miles, I believe. Think about it…..if you’re not on a highway you’re driving on a county road so when it comes to snow removal the county has an enormous amount of roads to plow. The primary roads are those that lead to the highway or lead to an available road that would then lead then to a highway. Remember, it will take the county a lot longer to plow all the county roads when there is a heavy snowfall as we have just experienced. They will clear the county’s primary roads (such as those that intersect a highway or one that is heavily traveled. The smaller roads that intersect the primary roads are called secondary roads and that is, for the most part, where many residents live. One of the challenging problems both the county and Caltrans have when doing snow removal is that if it keeps snowing they must return to the primary roads if they are working on the secondary roads. Because the primary roads ultimately lead to the highways  or they connect with other roads that lead to the highways they must keep the primary roads open as much as possible. If a primary road has been plowed by the county but enough snow accumulates (it used to be a few inches but I’m not sure what the figure is today) they must leave the secondary roads they are working on and move back to plow the primary roads so there is some way for residents to get out of the area if there is an emergency such as getting someone to a hospital,  etc. Getting you to work in a heavy snow would probably not be considered an emergency as it is something that mountain residents should expect.

I used to take a cup of hot coffee out to the plow drivers when the weather was really bad and they always appreciated it so much. Imagine operating one of those enormous plows in weather that is below freezing and you’re probably colder than the Arctic Circle on Hwy. 18. Twenty years or so ago the equipment didn’t have heaters or if they did they gave the drivers minimal heat. We owe them a lot, so the next time you see a plow driver, if you have the opportunity tell them thank you or give them a “thumbs up” sign to let them know you appreciate them. Just make sure you give them a “thumbs up” sign with the right fingers. Without them we’d be lost! Their job, whether we like it or not, is to clear the snow as quickly as possible which is why they seldom have time to maneuver around vehicles that may be parked in the street. They do not have time to make sure the snow doesn’t end up in your driveway either. If they did that for everyone they wouldn’t get anything done. As I said, their job is to get the snow removed as quickly as possible and to keep the primary roads open as much as possible so people can get out if they have to. If the snow continues and it reaches a new level snow removal operators must go back and clear the primary roads.

You couldn’t pay me enough money to plow roads (even if I knew how). We owe those drivers a lot so let them know you appreciate their efforts in the daytime or when it’s really freezing cold at night. You might even send a thank you note to the county transportation department or Caltrans if you’re talking about the highways. The head of the department will probably faint at getting a nice letter, but they deserve it.  These drivers get a lot of flack and few “thanks” so  the next time you have the chance to thank them, do it! They’ll be pleasantly surprised that someone is thanking, rather than criticizing, them. In years past I used to take some of them a hot cup of coffee. They were always surprised but I don’t remember any of them refusing it.

Just think……without them all the drivers that have driven the icy roads today wouldn’t have been out and about and they’d probably never get to the Rose Parade tomorrow.

P.S. I typed this story last night, the night before New Year’s Eve and just finished updating it.





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