Bismarck crews spent the first part of the week clearing more than 8 inches of newly fallen snow from the city’s avenues and streets. And though snow gates were used by plow operators, some residents faced the daunting task of shoveling piles of compacted snow from the end of their driveways.
Such was the case for Colleen Kleinjan, who lives on Boulevard Avenue. On two occasions Tuesday, a city snow plow left a “berm” of snow, ice and sand at the foot of the 79-year-old’s driveway.
“We had a berm we couldn’t drive though. It needed to be shoveled before we could get out,” Kleinjan said. “In the case of an emergency or for people needing quick access ... it doesn’t add up. I really feel this issue needs to be addressed.”
Bismarck began using snow gates in 2000, after an ordinance was adopted that called for the gates to be used to prevent snow from being placed in driveways or openings to public streets.
“We always use the snow gates unless we declare a snow emergency — when there’s so much snow the gates aren’t working anymore,” said Jeff Heintz, director of service operations for Bismarck’s Public Works, who confirmed snow gates were used during the most recent storm.
Though the gates help, they’re not foolproof.
“With 8.2 inches, like we had with this storm, the snow doesn’t all stay in the gate,” Heintz said, noting the mechanics of the gate sometimes play into the amount of snow left behind, as well. "We ask that citizens work together with their neighbors to open up driveways and mailboxes that may become blocked."
On occasion, the gate doesn’t close up tight against the plow face and snow escapes, leaving a ridge.
Snow plow operators may even overlook a driveway while working in the dark of night or while maneuvering around vehicles parked in the street, according to Heintz.
City crews began snow removal operations Monday, working around the clock to open emergency routes, major arterial streets and residential areas. By noon Wednesday, the majority of Bismarck’s roadways were expected to be cleared.
“For the most part, we haven’t gotten a lot of complaints,” Heintz said Tuesday, as snow removal operations were nearing the home stretch.