More snow removal?

January 31, 2001 11:00 pm

Baker County should put a bid in for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Washington Avenue, with its deep ice ruts, could play host to the bobsled and luge races.

Alpine courses could be spread out, not over the Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort course, but the berms that stand like rosy peaks in the middle of our streets.

Some have even garnered names themselves, like Mt. Block Intersection and Mt. Ohmygodtheresacarbehindthebermdomybreakswork (were told its a name of Aztec origin).

We jest.

But there is room for serious discussion about snow removal in Baker City.

Because business as usual when the weather is unusual just might not work.

To the citys credit, the massive snowstorm last month that carpeted the city in fluffy stuff didnt cripple the town. Roads were passable, with added caution and reduced speed.

Unfortunately, this was far from a typical Baker City snowstorm. We are accustomed to a few inches falling here, then melting away the next day. Massive and lasting accumulations are for the mountains, not the town.

Not so this time.

Temperatures remained consistently below freezing, sometimes in the single digits overnight, throughout January.

That left towering berms of snow to become towering berms of ice, a threat to traffic visibility and vehicles themselves. Hardened snow has a consistency far more forgiving than solid concrete, for sure. But its mercy is not complete.

Then there were the ruts worn in streets like Washington and Auburn avenues. The sheer volume of traffic using those collector streets wore through the ice to the pavement but only in two wide tire tracks in each direction. The remaining ice threatened drivers ability not only to turn in an emergency, but to turn period. Crossing those berms to the left or right resembled driving over a curb at an angle.

Again, to the citys credit, crews worked to break up the ice as soon as a threat was recognized.

However, there is no shortage of detractors of the citys snow removal strategy in Baker City.

There is no reason the city couldnt remove more of the snow from our streets, rather than stacking up chest-high berms.

The city has simply chosen to spend its money on things like a roof for the Sam-O Swim Center, and salaries for police officers.

Still, they are our tax dollars. And if snow removal is the highest and best use of those dollars, the city council must hear it.

But the time to revamp the citys snow removal strategy is from April through June during budgeting for the next fiscal year.

The trick is remembering your concerns about snow removal. Because by then, Baker Citys streets should be bare of berms.

We hope.