Storm’s over, tourists are gone, time to relax
The holidays are over, the snow has stopped falling – for now, the hordes of tourists have gone – until Martin Luther King Jr. Day at least – and the crews working for the Truckee Public Works Department finally have a chance to catch their breath.Well, almost.Snow removal crews are still working around the clock clearing roads and pushing back berms to get Truckee’s streets ready for the next major storm cycle, whenever that may come. But now that the holiday gridlock has cleared up, the plows and blowers are able to do their jobs much faster than during the holiday rush.”It’s a situation that has happened before and will happen again,” Dan Wilkins, Truckee’s town engineer, said of the holiday storm. “Any time you get that volume of snow coupled with peak activity in the area, it results in gridlock.”One of the biggest problems plow drivers faced in the storm was abandoned vehicles and parked vehicles, Wilkins said. Those obstacles kept plow drivers from getting into subdivisions to do their work.”There were a number of streets that didn’t get plowed for one to two days because of the fact that abandoned vehicles were obstructing our ability to get onto the streets to plow them,” Wilkins said.Gridlock and traffic accidents also kept the Truckee Police Department busy from Dec. 29 through Jan. 2 as icy roads and thousands of visitors didn’t always mix well.Interstate 80 was closed off and on over that period for a total of almost 36 hours as high winds and heavy snow combined to slow Caltrans’ efforts to keep the freeway open.”It’s a common fact that when [Interstate] 80 closes, we’re going to have problems,” said Truckee police Chief Scott Berry.According to Berry, dispatchers handled more than 2,200 telephone calls, including 911 calls, during the holidays and the police department took 489 calls for service, documented 71 traffic accidents and generated more than 100 written reports.The police also towed more than 20 vehicles from the downtown area, including 15 on New Year’s Eve, to allow snow plows to clear the parking spaces along Commercial Row. Officers contacted patrons at all the downtown bars and hotels prior to towing the vehicles, Berry said, but could not locate all of the vehicles’ owners.Only two people were arrested on New Year’s Eve: One woman on suspicion of drunkenness in public, and another man who was arrested after a traffic accident and the discovery of a large quantity of marijuana in his vehicle.Overall it was a fairly smooth week, Berry said, given the snow and the crowds.