Sunday, December 16, 2007

Beware of Nebraska Snow

There's a lot of things Nebraska does that are good. Like, they grow corn. And they put "Bridges May Be Icy" signs up year round at the brink of every bridge. And they use gravel on country roads to save tax dollars. And they even keep the sides of the roads clear when it snows.

But, they do not know how to deal with the snow ON the roads. For instance, when it snows any amount of snow, the snow plow dude gets in his big orange, county truck and proceeds to move the snow on the streets in town. He simply moves snow on the streets. Let me repeat: he moves snow on the streets, not OFF the streets. All the snow is piled in the middle of the street, right down the yellow line. I'm not kidding. They give it a technical term too: Snow Row.

When that is done, he plows the sides of the highways and gets them cleared off.

Then, he'll go down side streets about three or four days after the last snow fall (usually around the time when it all starts to melt) and with his plow truck, he'll drive back and forth, neglecting his plow but sprinkling small amounts of gravel at each intersection. Never mind there is usually about two to three inches of snow packed on the road, at least the intersections have trace amounts of gravel to help you stop.

I am from the North where feet of snow can be cleared of roads within just hours of the end of a winter storm. I lived on a country road for years that only us and our few neighbors used. That road was cleared and graveled and salted well shortly after the storm ended. So, on this winter day as I prepared to head into a nearby town, I didn't even think twice when I prepared to go out one day about 4 days after the last snow fall. I mean, I wasn't heading down a vacant farm road or anything real primitive; I was heading into a busy town. I just automatically neglected the fact that snow-on-the-roads would still be an issue so long after the last snow storm. (And just so you know, the "snow storm" consisted of like two inches of snow. Seriously.)

I drove into town and was suddenly enlightened that even the well traveled roads still had snow on them. The only reason there were a few bare spots were because the good Lord had sent a couple hours of warm sunlight that melted a few bare spots in the road.

This is ridiculous! I thought to myself. I mean, it had been a few days since the last flake of snow had fallen and this bustling town acted like the whole arctic had moved to their spot on the prairie and ended life as they knew it. And they submitted as martyrs to it's elements. If only they knew how to use their snow plows, this arctic experience would immediately end.

While driving no more than 25mph down one sloping road, I hit the breaks and slid several feet before coming to a stop. I was tempted to stick my feet out and get the van to stop sooner but decided to wait and see how long it took to stop. This was a well traveled road, folks. It led to the only Christmas light display in the park of the town I had come to that wintry day. Ice skates would've proven safer than my airbag-outfitted-front-wheel-drive-mini-van.

I slowly and cautiously edged my way towards the edge of town where the highway was safely glazed with salt. And what should I find after leaving the snow covered roads of Seward, Nebraska but a huge grater truck clearing the sides of the road. Yes, sides of the roads. What do we do with the sides of the roads that's more important than what we do on the roads themselves?

I just don't get it.

Nebraska can grow corn well and caution all drivers about the bridges possibly being icy. But, when it comes to snow, they could take a few lessons from Wisconsin. I'm sorry for my racism or whatever it's called when you think one state is better than the other but that is just the honest truth.


Anonymous said...

Yes, 2 inches of show and then on top of that 1 1/2 inches of ICE. Yes nothing but ICE. And for the show in the middle of the road where else should they put it? Its only pushed to the middle of the street in the business district, if they pushed it to the sides of the streets where would the people park? Oh, and by the way when the rest of the streets are cleared they go back and load up the snow that they pushed to the middle of the road so nicely so the residents of the town can still park in front of the business. :)

Pat VE said...

I think that snow removal could be done better. I'm not in a position to say HOW to do it, just that it could be more effective. We were in North Bay, ON in Jan. 01 for a special wedding, and I was really impressed at how well the roads were cleared even though there were ongoing snow "storms". Well, here's a suggestion. Look at the amount of your tax dollars that go to the public schools, (a good chunk of your total taxes) subtract about one fourth of their cut, and do it like we do everything else--throw the extra funds at the roads dept. and see what they can come up with. :-)

Coeur d'Court said...


That's what had me puzzled... it had been days since the last snow fall and there was STILL snow in the middle of the street (in our town here) and Seward's busier roads (like even hwy 34) continued to be covered with snow and ice. In Wisconsin they have a popular winter practice after a snow fall and/or ice storm: salt, gravel and plow. Repeat until roads are dry/safe. I agree... the snow row for a time is a good option but after a day or two, it seems like a good idea to get it off the street. I think in our town, they wait for it to melt off.

I like your tax dollars explanation for snow removal in Nebraska, Pat. :) They probably are doing as good of a job as they can but it seems funny that snow has to be such an issue days after it falls.

Thanks for the comments!

Anonymous said...

Wow, send us a picture of this ordeal.
It sounds like you and the family would be much safer and better off living here in the North where we can handle the snow. Just remember all the great fun too, ... hills that this territory provides...that equals sledding, which makes for great winter entertainment.

Coeur d'Court said...

Sledding... no thank you. :) I'll never forget the last ride down the hill I enjoyed -- until it came to a bitter end. But, still... Wisconsin is nice.

I'll have to take a picture of the snow row the next time it snows. :)

Peter said...

Ahem Courtney, you aren't holding any grudges are you?