Snow crews ready to roll

By Observer editorial January 22, 2013 07:33 am

For bad weather around La Grande and Union County, some winters are worse than others. The one under way now hasn’t been especially pleasant, at least not for people who don’t like snow. Good thing for all of us, our public works crews are adept at clearing paths.

Winter hit with a real vengeance early Jan. 9.  There was hardly a trace of snow on the ground when the community went to sleep Sunday night, but we woke up in the morning to a 6-inch blanket all over the floor of the Grande Ronde Valley. And for the next few days, the snow kept coming.

In La Grande, city crews mobilized quickly, clearing main arteries first, then moving to the downtown area. An extra crew came on and worked through the night, and by Tuesday travel through the city was a snap. There was some fear that as temperatures warmed and the snow got slushy, catch basins might plug up and cause flooding. Public Works prepared for the worst, filling sandbags. Flooding never materialized, but if it had, crews stood ready to respond to the emergency.

Union County road workers also responded quickly. They went to work early and stayed at work late to make sure connecting roads stayed open and safe. It’s a tribute to them that schools throughout the county remained open during the weather event.

Oregon Department of Transportation workers did their usual competent job keeping traffic flowing along state routes and Interstate 84. Only once did the freeway close during the heavy snowfall, about 7 p.m. Tuesday when a truck jack-knifed about 13 miles west of La Grande. That problem was
corrected within two hours.

It’s easy to take snow removal efforts like this for granted, but the truth is, without them, emergency vehicles wouldn’t be able to reach people in trouble, kids and teachers wouldn’t be able to get to class, and ordinary people everywhere wouldn’t be able to conduct their daily routine business. Congratulations are in order for the city, county and state crews who worked all day and long into the nights to keep traffic moving, and moving safely.