City: Snow removal back to normal
Two weeks after South Lake Tahoe’s snow removal service was called into question for being spotty during the height of the New Year’s winter storm, officials and residents reported measurable improvements with cleanup following Saturday’s storm.
Neighbors in the Tahoe Keys to the Blackwood/Herbert area reported cleared roads on Sunday. The assessment was made following community criticism over the sparse number of plow drivers working over the New Year’s holiday.
That weekend brought a slushy mess of snow and rain that clogged roads, drains and the driveways of weary residents. Talk of a possible sick-out or a reduction in crew didn’t help the situation, as residents wondered if they were being penalized for voting down in November an increase in the $20 parcel fee to pay for new snow removal equipment.
“I was told the full crew was out,” City Manager Dave Jinkens said on Sunday.
Mayor Hal Cole concurred, adding he had received only one call from a resident regarding snow removal service.
Jinkens said he also heard from the city’s Public Works department that the night plow operators started their shift earlier than usual on Saturday.
“They were out early to really get a jump on this,” South Lake Tahoe resident Mark White said, while standing outside his cleared street at Craig Avenue off Rufus Allen Boulevard.
He was joined by his neighbor, John Cronin, who lamented about two weeks ago over having to snowblow much of his street so motorists could get around.
The men guessed it took the plows half the time to make their first pass through the neighborhood – four hours. During the New Year’s weekend, the plow driver showed up on Wednesday, three days later, Cronin said.
Plow driver Jerry Heath said there’s a reason for that. He worked a full shift but didn’t know the story behind the parked equipment or missing crew members.
“That stuff was Sierra cement, and everything happened at once. This stuff is a lot drier,” Heath said, while out on his roads near Aspenwald Road and Pioneer Trail.
Residents in Heath’s zone seemed grateful.
“This was definitely an improvement. That stuff on New Year’s was messy. We’ve got more action today,” Art Ruvalcava said in front of his Marlette Circle home.
David Moreno has lived in Tahoe for 40 years and wondered Sunday if the service has changed. He lives in the Al Tahoe neighborhood near Lakeview Avenue. Moreno was critical of the lack of plowing over New Year’s, but he said he’s grateful the driver showed up Sunday.
“It used to be they’d show up at night, and you’d shovel out your berm in the morning. You’d come home and do it again. Now, you’re just lucky if they’ve plowed once every 24 hours,” he said.
Meanwhile, law enforcement kept busy over the weekend with numerous spinouts and accidents.
The most serious was on Saturday afternoon on Highway 89 near the Caltrans yard, when a large SUV broadsided a BMW, sending the driver to the hospital.
A rescue team from the Lake Valley Fire Protection Unit used extrication equipment to pull the unidentified woman out of the car, said Gareth Harris, Lake Valley battalion chief. She was transported to Barton Memorial Hospital.
Another accident on Highway 50 at Cave Rock at about 2:30 p.m. on Saturday sent at least one woman to Barton Memorial Hospital with moderate injuries following a head-on collision. The identity of the woman and her condition were unavailable on Sunday.
– Tribune city editor Jeff Munson contributed to this story.
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