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Southern Colorado street & road crews prepare for extreme cold, wind and icy, snowy roads this weekend

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Monday is the Presidents' Day holiday, to go along with Valentine's Day on Sunday, but the weekend won't be much of a holiday for area street and road crews as the latest winter storm moves through.

Jack Ladley, public works operations manager for Colorado Springs, said that snow shouldn't be an issue, with no more than three inches of accumulation expected.

"It's going to be more of a cold, windy and slick road event," he said. "We saw that Friday morning. Areas such as Garden of the Gods were particularly icy. Variations in ground and air temperatures can change conditions from area to area, and even from lane to lane within the same block."

Ladley said that with low temperatures expected to be near or below zero through Monday, his crews won't use as much magnesium chloride, or even sand and salt, for surface treatment.

"We'll use some where and when we have to, but not as much because they just don't work as well when it gets this cold. Sand and salt are the only option we have to chemical treatment."

The city had a partial call-out of street crews on duty Friday morning but planned to shift to a full call-out of 40 vehicles by the evening commute.

Eric Meyers, a supervisor with the Colorado Department of Transportation, said that 20 crews were out early pre-treating roads and highways with salt brine.

"We do have the capability of still using liquids," he said. "But we like to use our sand slicer mix, just to provide some traction for cars and/or trucks. But if conditions dictate, we still have the ability to use that cold weather liquid. And it does work. It just has to be monitored."

However, El Paso County Engineer Jennifer Irvine said that the county decided not to pre-treat with salt brine because of the cold temperatures -- and had crews only on standby Friday.

"We monitor the weather and have our foreman go out and monitor the locations," she said. "And if we do find that we need to call folks out, we go ahead and do a full call-out. We may or may not even have to call out."

Irvine said that the county has a fleet of more than 60 vehicles that can clear paved and unpaved roads.

As of Friday night, most roads remained clear but a some neighborhood streets had a slight accumulation of dry, powdery snow.

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Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.

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