“Spring of Hell” poses challenges for road and bridge crews – Rick Langenberg

Snow, snow go away. Come back next year, or better yet, head to the ski slopes.

This is the theme of county road and bridge crews, who have been assaulted with regular snow days, ice, hail, cold weather and an overall lousy spring.

“It’s been a challenge,” admitted Brad Shaw, operations manager of the Teller County Transportation Department, following a commissioners meeting last week, when road and bridge crews were once again preparing for another snow day in the Teller high country. He said the agency has accumulated considerable overtime this spring, with fewer employees. “We have been down three employees,” said Shaw.

Plus, a bombardment of late storms has provided a real test for the agency, and its equipment. The amount of moisture may not have set a record, but the accumulation of this many late storms, extending even into the Memorial Day weekend, are unusual.

“There have been a lot of soft spots to deal with,” stated Shaw. He said the amount of overall moisture hasn’t been a problem, but the amount of late winter assaults has presented a challenge. “We are looking at snow for Memorial weekend,” added Shaw.

But the agency received strong adulation during an employee service award ceremony last week during which officials paid tribute to a 10-year employee, Chance Harmon. Teller County Administrator Sheryl Decker gave the department an A-plus for their response efforts, noting that the county got clobbered with seven significant snow events in April alone, with more than 31 inches

Altogether, Teller County has far exceeded the 100-inch level of accumulation this season. Besides Decker, commissioners Dave Paul and Norm Steen also lauded the work of the agency and noted that they have hardly received any complaints.

The problems facing the Teller road and bridge crews aren’t alone. Green Mountain Falls Public Works Director Michael Cullinane has been tracking snow events in the lower Ute Pass. He notes that the totals for 2015/2016 have far exceeded what the agency had the previous year.

On the upside, the 2016 “Spring of Hell” hasn’t resulted in significant road closures and delays. Contrary to past years, the county hasn’t been forced to contend with a signature blizzard.

In other county news, the commissioners last week approved a special event liquor permit for the Mountain Top Cycling Club for June 11. The event is a major fund-raiser for the club for an event planned in Florissant at 1920 Teller 31.

The club received the written support of Brad and Laura Eicher, the mangers of the Pikes Peak Regional Business Park.
The commissioners approved the request with no concerns.

Also, the commissioners signed off on the county’s cooperative law enforcement agreement between the sheriff’s office and the Forest Service. It is part of a grant that authorizes extra personnel for manning the Pike and San Isabel National Forest areas, and other hot spots. The agreement allows both the sheriff’s office and the Forest Service to patrol certain areas using ATV equipment and to work as a team. “This will encourage positive feedback and enthusiasm within the deputy pool,” stated Wanda Poalillow, a finance assistant for the Teller County Sheriff’s Department, in a letter. “We are looking forward to offering this to those that are qualified.”