Chad M. Johnson: Snow plow myths

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As a local excavating contractor in Steamboat Springs, who like many of us doubles as a snow removal service in the winter, I have had to deal with several unpleasant phone calls in the past few days concerning noise problems. I thought I would take a few minutes, put pen to paper, and maybe clarify a couple of myths of snow removal:

■ Myth 1: The local snow removal contractors choose what time of the day or night they can plow a particular property. Not true. In reality, the people who hire us tell us what time they want their properties to be plowed and how many times (or how much snow) they want removed per day, week or month. If we don’t follow this agreement (often times in the form of a written contract), they can fire us and find someone else who will plow it the way they want it. In the worst-case scenario, someone gets hurt while driving or walking through the property that hasn’t been plowed properly, in which case lawyers and lawsuits follow for everyone involved.

■ Myth 2: The operators who plow these properties drive around all night laughing hysterically because it’s so comical that they are waking everyone up. Not true. Just like most of you, they have husbands, wives and children at home who they would much rather be spending their time with. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not very fun getting a phone call in the middle of the night telling them to get to work. Sometimes that call comes once per week, but if you’ve lived here long enough, it can come 28 straight days for 14 hours a day. I’ve missed my share of Christmas mornings, as did my father and his father before him, and I, for one, wasn’t laughing. The simple truth is it’s just a job, just like many of you have, only unfortunately it makes a lot of noise and keeps some of you up at night.

■ Myth 3: Those noisy backup alarms are optional. Not true. Quite simply, it’s the law, it’s OSHA-mandated, and our insurance companies require them. The first machine that backs over someone and hurts, or God forbid kills, them and that machine did not have a properly functioning backup alarm could result in several people going to prison. That’s a chance I am not willing to take.

■ Myth 4: We are violating the city noise ordinance making all that noise at night. Again, not true. According to the city noise ordinance, snow removal operations are recognized as an “emergency operation” and are exempt. This was done so the city streets and businesses within the city are safely accessible for everyone trying to get their day started, even on weekends and holidays.

Finally, something to think about the next time before you go after your local plow contractors: If God forbid one of your husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, grandparents or children are seriously injured from slipping on a piece of ice in a parking lot, who are you going to blame? Something tells me it would not be very long before my phone started ringing.

Chad M. Johnson

Steamboat Springs

Comments

mavis 4 years, 6 months ago

well said Chad- pathetic you have to explain this to people- I would also like to add another myth Just because someone is married to a plowjockey does not mean that they are not a supportive or caring parent since they CANNOT drop the kids off at daycare so you can make it into work early for some meeting--- because last I checked it isn't legal to strap the carseats to the top of the loader (even thought the kids would love it) and if they took that time to do it 80% of the little green subaru's in the parking lot NEVER would have made it to the county or city road. It is what some people do for their living and they are needed.

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sledneck 4 years, 6 months ago

A friend told me a story about how some people in San Fran, CA started fussing about how the train blew its whistle too often as it passed through their neighborhood. They finally pissed the RR off so bad that it now blows the whistle EVERY time ALL THE WAY through the area. Maybe you could rig a back-up alarm to work in forward gear too?

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mmjPatient22 4 years, 6 months ago

If the toll on the battery/alternator, and subsequent diesel consumption(and not to mention the toll on the operator, for having to listen to that sound incessantly), for constantly running a ridiculously annoying back-up horn(on volume 11!!!) were even somewhat near worth-it........I'm sure I wouldn't be the only one doing it. The people in this town that are even REMOTELY intolerant of the slight inconvenience of hearing the snow being removed from their driveways/streets/sidewalks/parking lots....well, when I got the memo on reality, I guess these people missed it.

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OnTheBusGus 4 years, 6 months ago

I enjoy the sound of the scraping plow blade and back up beep because that indicates new snow which equals a powder day! Seriously, if you've spent any time in Denver during a storm, you will realize that we have great snow plow services here in the Yampa Valley. The services here are timely and well done. My friends in the Denver area have a street that still has cumbersome lumps of ice from the previous storms because their residential streets are low priority. By the time plows get to the snow it's turned to unmanageable ice that stays. Thanks plow drivers for your hard work, early mornings and sleepless nights!

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mmjPatient22 4 years, 6 months ago

Personally, I find it to be the most enjoyable time that I spend on the roadways. It's usually too early/late for tourists to be out. Most of the "equipment"(not just a truck with a plow on it) that is used doesn't go all that far past 25-30 mph., which means that most of the rest of traffic is happily leaving us in their dust. This means that we don't have to deal with a whole lot of ignorance when we're "in transit." However, upon entering/exiting the main flow of traffic, or when attending to snow that is near any traffic, I know that I can speak for most of us when I say that we could sure use a "brake" every once in a while. In other words, if you commuters out there see a snow removal professional operating a piece of machinery that is obviously not your typical "plow truck"(or even if it is), you can count on your efforts being appreciated if you take a little extra caution and care when approaching them.

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 6 months ago

Sledneck, Actually, the SF story is that commuter trains that parallel the Bayshore Freeway were properly blowing their horns and it upset some in some rich neighborhoods. The warnings horns have to be loud enough early enough at the intersection and at 50 mph which is quite a horn blast.

So they spent millions to install remote horns at the intersections which keep most of the sound at the intersection.

But the train operator still has the horn to use as a warning. Thus, when people cheat the crossing guard or otherwise fail to stop properly then the train operator is supposed to use the locomotive's horn. And the people there are so bad at obeying the crossing signals that the train operators still commonly use their horns through the intersections.

Thus, the people that complained about the noise from the horns were able to force millions to be spent on a solution and then behave so badly that they force the train operators to use their horns regardless.

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mmjPatient22 4 years, 6 months ago

Huh...special rules for special people... ...almost humorously ironic.

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blue_spruce 4 years, 6 months ago

"I enjoy the sound of the scraping plow blade and back up beep because that indicates new snow which equals a powder day!"

no doubt! i thought the exact same thing immediately when i was reading the article!

i can't imaging a better way to wake up!!

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greenwash 4 years, 6 months ago

Its only a matter of time before the new residents of downtowns Olympian,Alpen Glow,Howelson and Victoria start to compain (NIMBY) about smells from the rodeo grounds and that train whistle.Or mabye thats why none have sold.

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sledneck 4 years, 6 months ago

Scott, Thanks for the correction. Third-hand info... Anyway, still funny in a patheticly sad way.

Blue spruce, Right on! I remember last couple winters hearing snow plows almost every night. Who, in their right mind doesn't love that sound? It's like rain on a tin roof... SWEET!

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