WEATHER

Massive population growth has led to more miles of roads for Utah’s snowplows

Jan 4, 2024, 7:44 PM | Updated: Jan 5, 2024, 6:14 am

Two snowplows getting ready to push the snow off Herriman City's roads....

Two snowplows getting ready to push the snow off Herriman City's roads. (KSL TV, Stuart Johnson)

(KSL TV, Stuart Johnson)

HERRIMAN — It just takes a second of hearing a plow scraping snow off a paved road, and many people will feel the chill of winter.

“For the most part, I get pretty excited,” said Austin Cook, Herriman’s street foreman.

Even though that sound means long hours and early wake-up calls for guys like Cook, he says there is nothing like that sense of accomplishment that you are helping others.

“It is satisfying to see all the hard work come through, and you see that blacktop,” he said.

Seeing the blacktop means snowplow drivers are doing a good job clearing roads. But Cook said there is a lot more road to clear in his city.

“It has grown a lot,” said Cook. “Everyone kind of has to learn a new map. Everyone has their zone map, and there are additional neighborhoods and everything that gets added to it.”

A line of new snowplows getting ready to remove snow from Herriman City's roads.

A line of new snowplows getting ready to remove snow from Herriman City’s roads. (KSL TV, Stuart Johnson)

Like many Utah cities, Herriman has seen a huge population increase in the past 10-to-15 years.

When it was incorporated 25 years ago, about 1,000 people lived there. Today, the population is about 65,000 people. That means more roads, more neighborhoods, and, for the city, more plows and drivers to keep up.

“This is something that the city council and city leadership prioritizes and knows is important,” said Jonathan LaFollette, Herriman communications manager.

In 2000, Herriman had about 45 lane miles of roads to plow. In 2010, that jumped to 210 lane miles. Today, it’s about 350 lane miles.

“People drive on the roads, and when they are snowy and icy, they are unsafe, and we need to make sure the roads are safe,” LaFollette said.

A graph showing how much Herriman City has spent on snowplows and the resources

A graph showing how much Herriman has spent on snowplows and the resources. (Courtesy: Herriman city)

Keeping the roads safe is why Herriman has bought new trucks to plow, sand, and salt and hired more drivers to clear roads as quickly as possible.

Because of last winter’s record snow, Herriman plowed 20,000 miles of road during 38 snow events. Drivers plowed about 6,000 miles of roads in 11 snow events the year before. Cook sure appreciates the extra help.

“If we were still at the same number of drivers as ten years ago, we would be out there probably five or six hours longer on each shift,” Cook said.

As Herriman and other Utah cities continue to grow, the number of roads to keep safe during snowstorms will only grow, too.

“I think most of the guys like it, and we just like doing our job,” Cook said. “It is good to know we are keeping people safe.”

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Massive population growth has led to more miles of roads for Utah’s snowplows