With great snow comes berm bustin’ | SierraSun.com
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With great snow comes berm bustin’

Norm and Alan Nicholls
Special to the Sierra Sun

What a great start to what, hopefully, will be higher than normal snowfall this year. The system of storms over the past couple of weeks were not as epic as many had predicted, but did a very good job in adding significant snow to our snowpack.

For their efforts, we would like to thank all our snow fighters, from Caltrans, the Town of Truckee, Nevada, Placer, and El Dorado counties, snow removal contractors, and our “for-hire” shovelers and workers equipped with snow blowers. It looks like you should be able to get some decent sleep for a week or so ” you deserve it.

Thanks also to all the utility workers who worked very efficiently in keeping our power, water, CATV, gas and telephone services on line. Well done!



As is the case in most snow storms “both big and small ” the conversation about snow “berms” came up quite often. The article, “Bummer Berms” written by on Jan. 8, described the situation well, and it also talked about the “snow gate” that other road departments are using to eliminate, or greatly reduce the size of, the dreaded berm.

This is not new science. When Alice and I lived in South Lake Tahoe from 1973 to 1979, the City of South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado County used graders, equipped with snow gates, predominantly in their snow removal operations. Even when excess snow boiled up and over “the gate” the berm that remained was



considerably less than what we customarily see around here.

There were some occasions during particularly heavy snow storms that the operators did not use the gates at all in order to speed up the removal of the snow from the roadways. That was the exception rather than the rule, and if you were patient and didn’t need to go anywhere, the plows would normally return hours later to clean up.

In Mr. Cristancho’s article, Town of Truckee Public Works Director was quoted as saying that “the Public Works Department operates 12 front-end loaders that are not compatible with the snow gate blades. Town officials have debated in the past about adding more rotary snow blowers to its fleet to implement a comprehensive berm-removal program.”

The article ends by stating, “despite past discussions, the issue has not been a high priority for Truckee.”

I hope that other citizens in Truckee will join us in pressing our elected officials to at least try installing these gates on the graders that the town already operates and see how they work. Even if the town spends $15,000 apiece for two or three of them to “at least” try them out, I think we would all agree that it was money well spent.

If they don’t work to the road department’s satisfaction, they can take them off and probably sell them to El Dorado County for a discounted rate.

A “combination” of front end loaders, road graders equipped with snow gates, and rotary snow blowers seems to be a practical and economical solution to more efficient snow removal, and the reduction of berms that many of our citizenry do feel is a “high priority.”

Congratulations to the winner of our 2007 end-of-the-year drawing. Katie answered four of our questions last year and her name was picked out of a hat containing hundreds of other “Question of the Week” winners.

Katie has chosen the Sierra Senior Services to be the recipient of the $500 contribution that we will make on her behalf.

“I think there are unmet needs in our community when it comes to our seniors, and therefore I would be proud to contribute to the important work that SSS does,” said Katie.

Katie grew up in Chatham, New Jersey, and then attended Ohio Wesleyan University where she first met her future husband, He had been raised as an Ohio farm boy. After graduation Katie and John decided to head west to see what was out here and on the way they decided to visit John’s aunt who lived in Truckee. They fell in love with Truckee and each other. The rest is history.

They have lived in Truckee for 27 years and have raised two daughters, “both born in Tahoe Forest Hospital,” and numerous dogs and cats. Katie and John have been very active Truckee residents and have done a lot of volunteer and community service work. Katie also wrote a column for the Sierra Sun from 1999 to 2005.

Pla Vada was the name of the ski area at the Kingvale exit in the mid-1960s. The Nicholls Estate was the developer of the ski area and the Pla Vada subdivision on the other side of I-80. The development was bisected by the Placer and Nevada County line ” thus Pla Vada.

Our early bird winner was who remembers when his mother and father would ski there when he was a little boy. Other winners included


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