By Michael Howell
Ravalli County’s new Road and Bridge Department Supervisor Dusty Kern, following input from his crew has made a few suggestions for changes in the County’s Winter Roadway Operations policy.
His first suggestion reads:
“When encountering a county snow plow/sander please give them a little extra room. SLOW DOWN and move safely to the outside shoulder of the road. Our plows are 12 feet wide and take up an entire lane. When following a plow please give a 500 foot buffer space between you and the plow. Vehicles closer than this will not be considered for damage restitution.”
Another problem facing county snow plow and sander operators is trash cans that are left in the county road right of way. Kern told the Commissioners that when a road operator finds him or herself squeezed between an oncoming vehicle on one side and a trash can on the other side of the road it is the trash can that’s going to be taken out. Kern notes in his suggested addition to the county’s policy that “County drivers and operators will take extra caution and care on trash pick up days, but it is up to the public to remove those receptacles from the right of way for the remainder of the week.” The proposed policy states, “Trash receptacles left in the County right of way, or not physically contacted by equipment, will not be considered for repair or reimbursement.” It is already county policy that only mailboxes that were properly located and installed in accordance with U.S. Postal Service standards and which were damaged by “actual physical contact” with county equipment will be considered for repair at county expense. Complaints about damage and requests for repair or reimbursement are evaluated on a case by case basis.
As far as damage to vehicles by rock or sand the proposed policy change reads:
“Only rock or sand coming directly from a county vehicle or equipment and striking a vehicle will qualify for any sort of restitution. Rocks coming from the road surface will be considered a road hazard and there will not be any restitution. Anyone with vehicle damage is required to contact the road department immediately, produce the vehicle to the road department for an inspection, fill out a Ravalli County damage report, and deliver at least two estimates for repairs to the Road Department. The claims meeting the criteria above will be produced to the commissioner’s office for their review and ultimately their ruling.”
The County’s policy already reminds residents to remove parked vehicles and other property from public roadways and rights-of-way to assist in snow removal. Kern would like to add a clause allowing for vehicles parked in the right-of-way and posing a hazard or impediment to road operations to be towed at owner’s expense.
These proposed changes were taken under advisement by the County Commissioners and may be acted upon at a future meeting.