Colorado Public Works Journal, Summer 2022

Summer 2022 | 15 Bryan Weimer, Public Works and Development Director - Arapahoe County Balanced resource management is the foundation of the snow removal process employed in Arapahoe County by Public Works and Development Director Bryan Weimer. He shares that his team strives to exemplify service, trust, respect, vision, integrity, and excellence in all that they do. Stretching 72 miles east to west, Arapahoe County encompasses approximately 806 square miles traversing a combination of municipalities and unincorporated areas. “Arapahoe County includes 13 cities and towns, 9 school districts, and 450 local improvement or special service districts,” says Weimer of the County’s coordination challenges and opportunities. “Our landholders are very diverse from urban, suburban, and rural, commercial, residential, industrial, and agricultural to industry-leading assets like the Denver Tech Center, the Bronco’s training center, and Centennial Airport.” In Public Works, where resources are limited and the work is yearround, asset management, customer service, and dollars and cents all add up. “We employ 58 people full time in the Road and Bridge Division, which is responsible for snow removal throughout the county. We have 23 plows, 6 motor graders with V-plows plus four loaders for salts and sands. We have a detailed winter storm operations plan that prioritizes county roads by the level of service and storms by size based on volume. Of course, we also must consider where the snow is accumulating across 800 miles of land area.” Weimer reports that the County tracked 17 snow events in 2021 with an average accumulation of around 3 inches. His team plowed roughly 47,000 lane miles with trucks and another 800 miles by grader at a combined cost of $956,000. He shares that though the county maintains snow removal through internal forces, they do have an on-call contract if needed. “We’re pretty cost effective doing it ourselves,” says Weimer. “We’re at about $19 a mile, which is lower than what we’d pay a contractor.” Located on the eastern edge of southeast metro-Denver, Weimer points out that a lot of the snow that hits the ground in Arapahoe County will melt relatively fast. Frequent plowing, of course, adds to summertime maintenance work in roadway patches and repairs. As a County populated by 13 other municipal interests, Weimer tries to leverage mutually advantageous relationships with the other entities to achieve efficiencies. “We hold an annual snow clean-up workshop with all 13 municipalities and dissect the snow removal routes,” he shares. “If we cross through their jurisdiction during a storm event and plow that road as we go through, they will pick up areas on our roads in exchange.” Arapahoe County also offers residential communities the opportunity to enter into agreements for higher levels of service if they are willing to pay for it themselves, which some are. “We’re working within a budget and as a public resource, my obligation is to balance the best way to spend the money to achieve the greatest long-term benefit across the County’s entire spectrum of roads and bridges, citizens, businesses, and natural areas. It’s a lot to consider. I’m proud of the commitment and level of service our team provides within budget constraints.” Trent Prall, Director of Public Works City of Grand Junction One of America’s great gateways, aptly named Grand Junction is the hub of Colorado’s western slope. Home to some 65,000 residents in the city and 160,000 in the county, weather-wise, Grand Junction sits in what Trent Prall, the City’s Public Works Director, calls a banana belt. “Grand Junction averages a total of about 15 inches of snow a year, which arrives over the course of four or five events between Thanksgiving and Easter,” says Prall whom has been with the City for 27 years. He worked his way up from a project engineer role and became the Public Works Director in 2018. Today, he oversees the engineering for all capital projects in both buildings and infrastructure and orchestrates the City of Grand Junction’s Street maintenance and repair program, snow removal, and leaf clean-ups. “Within city limits our elevation ranges from 4,500 feet to 4,800 feet We are fortunate that for most of the snow we get, the sun and warm roads melt it off pretty quickly.” Though significant accumulation is infrequent, Prall points out that there are inversion periods where the snow stays. It’s his job to keep the streets clear. “Our snow removal is limited to arterial and collector roads. We do our Main Street and the adjoining alleys but not neighborhood roads,” says Prall. “We queue up eight dump trucks on eight routes with in-house resources.” In addition to the City's forces, Prall points to a fleet of independent operators who business owners hire to plow parking lots for commercial accessibility. He points out that though on occasion residents or businesses question the logic of leaving residential streets to mother nature, experience has shown otherwise. “We tried working on the neighborhood streets once but after plowing the arterials and collectors most people had already dug out their driveways. Our trucks started pushing snow back into people’s driveways and the phone started ringing before we were two blocks into it.” Like his counterparts in Frisco and Arapahoe County, Prall simply cares about good customer service and the people he asks to provide it. Asked about the most important thing he wants readers to know, Prall is on point. “Every day, I come to work looking at it as a chance to change people’s perception of local government,” he finishes. “Snow removal, like everything else we do in Public Works, is all about good customer service.”