Snow Plowing Problems, A Jaywalking Debate, and Brutalism's Last Champion
It’s Friday! And we’re looking back at the news of the week with one of our favorite returning guests — podcaster extraordinaire and weed expert Ann Marie Awad. She joins host Bree Davies and producer Paul Karolyi to dig deep into two debates over the state of our streets. Does Denver suck at plowing snow? And should we decriminalize jaywalking? Plus, Bree has a few words of remembrance for the great architecture critic Mary Voelz Chandler who passed this week, and as usual, we’ll help you pick some cool stuff to do this weekend.
We mentioned Michael Paglia’s remembrance of Mary Voelz Chandler for Westword (and her own excellent blog, Chandler in Denver, and her 2021 appearance on our show), Jim Charlier’s epic twitter thread on plowing policy, and this Denverite article on the plowing problem: Is Denver Bad at Snow Plowing?
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We reached out to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure for comments on the plowing situation. Here are their responses, edited for length:
CCD: Do you know if DOTI has any plans to re-assess its snow removal strategy? If so, how does the changing climate factor into those plans?
- The storm we received on December 29 was a particularly challenging storm event in that it was a wet, heavy, spring-like snow that hit during the coldest time of year. The snow also fell at very fast rate (1 to 3 inches an hour). Conditions on the main streets improved with subsequent passes by the plows. It was unusual for us to have a spring-like storm in December. So, we will be looking at… was this a one-time thing? Or a new trend amid global warming? These are the things that we’ll look at --- any new trends over the course of several seasons and see if we need to adjust. Here is more on that:
- we assess our snow program after every snow season, especially as we install more and new kinds of bike infrastructure, to evaluate what kinds of new equipment we might need, and so that we can make a budget ask for it.
- we will want to keep main streets a priority to ensure emergency vehicles and people can get where they need to go.
- we’re interested in continuous improvement and in discussing snow removal approaches that better support alternative modes of travel during the winter months, and large-scale programmatic changes will require expansions in people and in equipment. COVID put us in budget reduction mode, but as our city recovers, there may be opportunities in upcoming budget cycles to reignite discussions about service level expansions that the administration and elected officials want to fund.
CCD: I saw that the budget for plowing was $3 million in 2019. I can’t seem to find a more current budget. Do you happen to have that figure as well?
- We have about $3M in 2023 as well. If we need additional dollars due to an unusually active snow season or a big event at the end of the year, we would ask for a supplemental. Safety comes first.
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