The winter has left the streets and highways in and around Durango covered in sand and dust. Photo by Nate DeCremer
With the winter coming to an end and the temperatures warming up, there is a large quantity of sand, gravel, trash and other debris that litters the roads and highways in and around Durango.
During winter the snow covers much of the landscape and traps all sorts of debris that then becomes uncovered again once the snow melts in spring. Maintenance crews will work throughout the spring to remove any of the debris that happens to fall into the roads as a result of this melting, Lisa Shwantes, Southwest Regional Communications Manager for Colorado Department of Transportation said.
The sand, salt and gravel that CDOT and the city uses to add traction to roads in winter gets swept away using street sweepers Shwantes said.
CDOT’s goal is to get the road clear of gravel and sand and any other debris before the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, which takes place May 24 through 26, Shwantes said.
“We typically try and help out to make sure that the roadway is safe for all the cyclists that are on the road,” said Shwantes. “We’ll make sure that we get that road swept.”
In residential areas, the same process takes place using street sweepers and maintenance crews to clean the roads.
“We currently have two street sweepers that have been picking up approximately 10-15 tons of sand and trash per day around town beginning on March 12th,” said Mike Somsen, Street Superintendent for the City of Durango. “Since sweeping began, we have removed roughly 200- 250 tons of sand and trash from downtown, N. Main Ave. Camino Del Rio, Florida Road and Highway 160 West of town.”
The reason for so much trash and debris buildup during winter is most likely caused by the psychology of “out of sight, out of mind,” said Sadie Magnifico, assistant coordinator of the Environment Center at Fort Lewis College.
“Its like if the snow covers it up, then it’s not my problem to worry about,” Magnifico said. “People don’t realize, that things like animal waste don’t decompose in the time it takes for the snow to melt.”
The fact that there is a lot of debris on the roads already, may have something to do with it, Magnifico said. People think that it’s already a mess, so their small contribution won’t make that much of a difference in the big picture, she said.
With the spring cleaning process underway, the roads gradually begin to look cleaner.
“Our residential neighborhood sweeping began on Monday April 1,” Somsen said. “It is anticipated to take approximately 4 more weeks of sweeping before the town looks somewhat swept. You should notice a huge difference between now and the 2nd week of May.”