Help on the way to clear icy streets in Cottonwood Heights

Posted at 9:42 PM, Dec 05, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-05 23:42:03-05

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah -- Salt Lake County and the Utah Department of Transportation are temporarily stepping in to help Cottonwood Heights with snow removal after residents say they had a bad experience with a private contractor.

In November, Cottonwood Heights replaced Salt Lake County public works with private contractor Terracare. After a late start on clearing the snow and ice from Monday's snowstorm, the company's plows were still playing catch-up in neighborhoods Thursday.

But now, with below freezing temperatures, steep neighborhood streets are sheets of ice. Even with a 4-wheel drive, Tanya Segura struggled to get home.

"I have a daughter that goes to Butler, and I couldn't get her to school,” Segura said. “She pretty much had to walk, and I couldn't pick her up from school either.”

Residents said it's a safety concern. On top of that, the ice may stay for a week and another storm is coming.

"You know, I'm scared for Saturday's storm; I hope it's a small one," Resident Keri Sikorski said.

Sikorski was at an emergency meeting Thursday morning.  Cottonwood Heights’ mayor, city council, residents and the contractor were all in the same room. Terracare promises to bring in more plows and experienced drivers from Colorado, and UDOT and Salt Lake County will help too.

"Right now we've offered resources as far as snow plows and operators, and we've offered to give them some heavy equipment to break up the ice from that initial storm," said Russ Wall, who is the public works director with Salt Lake County.

The county will also take the lead Saturday, plowing the main roads while the contractor handles the side streets. One council member said if Terracare doesn't dramatically step it up, their contract with the city may be in jeopardy.

"We believed in doing this there was an opportunity to get more bang for the buck," said Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore Jr.  “Given the events of the last few days, that was not a good decision and we recognize that."

Salt Lake County will begin assisting Cottonwood Heights Friday, and the city will have to pay both the county and the contractor for snow removal.