HELENA — Residents that live on or near Last Chance Gulch in Downtown Helena likely heard a good bit of commotion as City of Helena crews work to remove the built-up snow and ice on the well-traveled street.
The City's Deputy Director of Transportation Systems, Chris Couey, says built-up snow and ice on the side of the road can create hazardous conditions for those driving and trying to park on Last Chance Gulch.
We've had quite a bit of snow come in and as we plow those off to the side, they can leave a berm or a big pile right close to the curbs. Sometimes that'll impede either the parking or the travel lanes or both," said Couey. "For safety reasons, we try to remove some of that if we can."
Starting Tuesday, crews began chiseling away at the built-up snow and ice between 4 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. and expect the job to be finished before Friday. Couey did note that members of the public are welcome to come out and watch but to do so from a safe distance.
"If you are interested in watching some of that process, do so obviously from a safe distance. Don't try to get right up close to them. If you can, stand down the street while they're doing it," said Couey.
While there are plenty of streets that can get bogged down with built-up snow and ice around the Helena area, Couey noted the city doesn't have an official snow removal policy in place, but rather a snow and ice control policy with emphases on plowing and sanding roads. Though, due to Last Chance Gulch being a tight street that sees the brunt of traffic in Downtown Helena, they want to ensure people can drive on it safely.
"A lot of this does take place downtown, just because of the narrow streets and the parking on both sides. For the most part, throughout the rest of the city, it doesn't become — I won't say that it's not an issue, but it doesn't become the impedance that it does in the downtown area," said Couey.
Couey also noted the actual process of removing snow and disposing of it near the city's wastewater treatment facility on Custer Ave. is not the easiest process to streamline.
We only have one machine that can actually do the snow removal and when we do it, we have to pull crews off of the regular activities. We have to break down our equipment. So, all of our plow trucks are set up to have sanders in the back of them, so if we go in to do snow removal, we have to remove all of that equipment," said Couey. "It's a big process for us to get into snow removal."