Residents complain of poor snow removal on Cottonwood Heights roads

Posted at 10:38 PM, Dec 03, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-04 00:38:07-05

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS -- Cottonwood Heights is getting blasted for shoddy snow removal.  In November, the city privatized snow removal and hired a Colorado-based contractor to handle it.

On Tuesday, the company was put to the test with the first major storm of the winter season and residents say it was a big failure.

The mayor says when the storm first hit overnight, the contractor, Terracare, didn't use all its resources immediately so crews got behind, which impacted both neighborhoods and part of Fort Union Boulevard.

A build-up of snow and ice caused part of Fort Union Boulevard to shut down for three hours Tuesday afternoon after eight slide offs between 2300 and 3000 Easts.

There were no serious injuries but it was a mess for motorists.  The mayor holds the new contractor responsible.

"They were definitely partly to blame,” said Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore, Jr. “Had we been on top of the storm from the beginning that should not have happened."

Cullimore said when the storm first hit, the contractor initially used five plows, instead of its full fleet of 10. It's unclear why but crews quickly got behind.

The public didn't sound off at a Tuesday night council meeting because many couldn't drive there but over social media, the city estimates nearly 100 complaints.

"I saw absolutely no plows on the roads and they were a sheet of ice and when I did see them, very small plows, none of the heavy load trucks that can throw down salt," said Darryl Colins, a Cottonwood Heights resident.

There's a dispute over whether neighborhoods were plowed.

Terracare officials say some were while one councilman says nothing east of Wasatch Boulevard was cleared.  Now the contractor will try to play catch up overnight to make up for what's been a disappointing first impression.

"They've never run these routes before,” Cullimore said.  “This is brand new to them so I suspect part of this was a steeper learning curve than they planned on and more than what we planned on but I think the capability is there without a doubt."

The mayor believes with a break in the storm, crews can clear snow from most neighborhoods in the next 24 hours.  He doesn’t believe the size of the trucks or resources are the issue but rather poor judgment.