Help county road crews make it a safe winter

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Bonner County Road & Bridge offers the following information to assist new and long-time residents who have questions and concerns of how the Road & Bridge Department prioritizes its snowplowing during the winter months. We are including several suggestions on how residents can be proactive in securing their mailboxes and safeguarding articles that are placed in the county right-of-way. We want everyone to have a safe and secure winter.

Winter road maintenance guide

Bonner County Road & Bridge maintains 709 miles of roads within the county operating from three districts. Sub-priorities have been set up as guidelines to aid district managers in making decisions, as follows:

• First priority — School bus routes, arterials and major collectors

• Second priority — All other county maintained roads after first priority roadways

Snow removal operations will generally begin after a sufficient accumulation of snow. Snow is plowed from roadways to provide two-way traffic as soon as practicable.

• Third priority — Sanding will not be performed until the roadway has been plowed. Use of sand is limited to steep roadway grades such as in mountainous terrain, at intersections, on overhead structures and in other areas determined by the department to be hazardous. It is not standard policy to sand straight stretches of roadway because of snow. Road salt is not used. Sand is not applied between 11 p.m.-4 a.m. due to no midnight crewman.

Residents who remove snow from their driveways are reminded that state law prohibits placing snow or ice on any public road in a manner that impedes vehicle and pedestrian traffic or makes it unsafe.

As a reminder, the county does not have the resources to clear driveways and private road intersections of snow once the plow passes. This is the responsibility of the homeowners.

You can help

Winter road maintenance is expensive, occasionally hazardous and time-consuming. There are several ways the public can help make the county’s job more cost effective and safe:

• If there is a snow fall and residents have a vehicle parked on the roadway, please move it immediately or it will be tagged for removal. If it is not moved, the vehicle will likely be bermed in or damaged. Once bermed in, it is the resident’s responsibility to shovel their vehicle out.

• Any snow plowing obstructions such as rocks, fences or planters within the county right-of-way should be removed for the winter. Not only can they be destroyed by snow removal operations, they can do substantial damage to snow plows. Owners of such obstructions can be held liable should the county’s equipment be unnecessarily damaged.

• Snow from resident’s property should not be stored over ends of culverts or drainage structures. Rapid warming cycles in winter could result in overloaded ditches being unable to drain. Local flooding could occur.

• Mailboxes are occasionally damaged during snow removal operations. Replacement of damaged mailboxes due to rotting posts or snow being thrown from a plow is the responsibility of the property owner/resident per the Bonner County Road Standards Manual, Section 8.

• Snow removal operations require the use of large, heavy, noisy equipment during periods of darkness usually accompanied by limited visibility. Bonner County operators are carefully trained and safety is stressed at all times. Drivers of automobiles need to follow and pass at a safe distance remembering that a plow in operation has right of way at all times.

• Children love to watch snow removal operations — the large equipment, noise, lights and activity can be very exciting. Although operators are happy to have an audience, people are cautioned to stay a safe distance away. The concentration required for snow removal, combined with the noise and types of equipment used, means the operators may not always be able to see people close by and accidents could result.

• Please encourage children NOT to build tunnels, forts or play in snow berms.

For further information, please call the Bonner County Road & Bridge Department at 208-255-5681, ext. 1, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. or go online to bonnercounty.us and navigate to the Road & Bridge Department page.

Steve Klatt is director of Bonner County Road & Bridge.

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