The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Western Storms Close Many Roads, Test Snow Plow Truck Fleets

January 29, 2008

EUGENE, Ore. --- With winter storms pummeling Western states, the heavy snowfall and hazardous road conditions have caused headaches and frustration for many fleet managers and drivers. The latest storm caused hundreds of collisions throughout Utah and Idaho, AP reported, as well as multiple road closures including Interstate 84 at the Idaho-Utah line.

Utah's Little Cottonwood Canyon was closed to traffic for avalanche control. Melting snow also spurred emergency flood warnings on the Navajo reservation, spread out over parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico.

State and local snow-plow truck fleet operators have struggled day and night to keep roads clear and to assist emergency services. Some areas haven't seen this much snow in over a decade.

Take, for example, the snow plow operation in Eugene, Ore. On Monday afternoon, Jan.28, the city lifted its emergency parking ban for non-emergency personnel, but road conditions in the southern part of the city remained trecherous, KVAL-Channel 13 News reported. During a reporter's visit to the brain center of Eugene's snow plow operation, phone calls from six plows and one de-icer were updated into a color-coded route database. About 20 trucks loaded up with sand hit the roads.

"The city of Eugene has priority routes and they're tied to emergency response routes to the hospital, bus routes, the major arterial streets, and that's where we focus our attention," Tony Jobanek with the Public Works Department told KVAL-Channel 13 News.

Even the snow plow trucks, at times, have struggled to make it up some icy, steep hills.

"Even the best response equipment to snow and ice has its limitations," Jobanek said. But the plowing crews will work around the clock until all the roads are safe, he added.

The harsh weather in the West has resulted in some driver fatalities. In California, one person was killed and two were critically injured in a collision on rain-soaked Pacific Coast Highway near Santa Cruz on Sunday, Jan. 27. The night before, a 21-year-old man died after his truck flipped over on Interstate 10 near the desert town of Indio, AP reported. A man in Othello, Wash., died after midnight Sunday, when a state Transportation Department snowplow struck him while he was walking in the road.

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