UDOT crews working to clear snow from mountain passes by Memorial Day

May 18, 2022, 5:16 PM | Updated: May 19, 2022, 7:42 am

BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah — It’s been a hot week but snow still covered roads in some of Utah’s high mountain passes.

Utah Department of Transportation plow crews hope to have a couple of the main passes open for Memorial Day.

For the third straight day, UDOT used a large snowblower at the top of Guardsman Pass to cut through snowdrifts and blow the snow and ice 20 to 30 feet in the air.

This is a popular road in the summer linking Park City with Salt Lake County so UDOT tries to get the pass open by the end of May.

Wednesday, the blower cut through drifts from four to eight feet deep.

“Depending on where it’s at. Some spots are bare. Some spots have got 8′ drifts on them, and then some spots have got 2′,” said Shawn Wright, UDOT lead supervisor.

It was not an exceptionally snowy year so the job was not as it has been in other years. In spite of that, 15″ of fresh snow landed on Guardsman Pass last week during one of the spring storms. The sunshine this week has melted a lot of it.

“It’s definitely a lot lighter year. Granted the winter we had, it’s a lot less,” Wright said. “We’re a little earlier. So there’s still quite a bit of snow up there.”

For the plow drivers, it’s a different kind of day with a different pace. Less hectic than pushing snow in mid-January.

“Warm weather and removing snow instead of cold, blizzard and freezing,” Wright said.

This is a large UDOT snowblower clearing snow off the road at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon to Guardsman Pass. (KSL TV) Guardsman Pass is a popular road in the summer linking Park City with Salt Lake County. (KSL TV) UDOT tries to get Guardsman Pass ready to open by the end of May. (KSL TV)

Right now, the plow crews are more than halfway done with Guardsman Pass. When crews are done there, they’ll get started on Mirror Lake Highway in the Uinta Mountains.

“We do Guardsman, and then we move all of the equipment to Mirror Lake,” the lead supervisor said.

They’ll need several days there to clear that road.

“We’re hoping to get it open for Memorial Day, that’s the tentative date. Hopefully, we can get it done.”

Right now, he said, that seems likely.

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UDOT crews working to clear snow from mountain passes by Memorial Day