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Road Crews Use Clear Days To Dig Out

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SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)- The dry and clear forecast this week is giving road crews in the mountains a chance to remove the mountains of snow piling up since New Year’s Day.

Road crews are struggling with the snow despite being well equipped to handle a snow storm. This time around there haven’t been many days since the new year where snow hasn’t fallen.

“We’ve just seen a lot of wind, a lot of snow and a lot of cold,” said Eisenhower Tunnel Superintendent Mike Salamon.

For much of the past week drivers couldn’t see the road entering the Eisenhower Tunnel with all the blowing and drifting snow.

“It was amazingly bad. It was terrible up here, snowpacked, a lot of mulch on the road, a lot of wind,” said Salamon.

The plow drivers who work out of the Eisenhower Tunnel have been moving snow around since October 2013. But it’s been constant, steady work over the past two weeks.

“The sustained winds, we’ve seen winds going for four and five hours at a time, 20 to 30 mph and not letting up and that makes it very difficult to keep up with as you’re trying to keep the road clear,” said Salamon.

On the 30 mile stretch leading up to the tunnel from Denver, eight plows have driven 12,600 miles since the first of the year. They’ve used 293 tons of sand and 30 tons of Ice Slicer.

That has cost $72,000 to keep the road open and as clear as possible since Jan. 1.

The constant snow fall and windy conditions have also brought increased avalanche conditions around the tunnels and Loveland Pass.

“I was talking to one of the forecasters and he was saying he doesn’t think we’ve done this many reduction efforts since back in the mid-90s for this period of two weeks,” said Salamon.

Those road crews workd 12-hour shifts around the clock.

“We literally have been working around the clock and really we staff that way every winter but the past couple of weeks have been quite challenging,” said Salamon.

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