School may have been back in session Tuesday morning, but the major winter storm over the valley is still packing a wallop. Local public works agencies remain fully deployed, and conditions are still slick and dangerous.
“When our community faces challenging winter conditions like we are experiencing this week, it really makes you proud to see everyone pull together to keep people safe and to keep systems functioning as best as possible,” said Rich Ochs, Teton County Emergency Management Coordinator.
“The real first responders are the Public works agencies like WYDOT, Jackson Public Works, Teton County Road and Levee, private snow removal contractors, plow drivers in Teton Park, and the hard-‐ working folks at Teton County Parks and Recreation who keep our sidewalks and pathways clear,” Ochs said. “These teams have been working at capacity and doing an incredible job getting roads and travel back to normal; and they’ll continue working overtime until after the winter storm conditions let up.”
Here’s an update for Tuesday, Jan. 10, on public works and emergency services efforts:
TRAVEL ADVISORIES: The Jackson Police Department has lifted the “No Unnecessary Travel” advisory for roads within town limits. However, “No Unnecessary Travel” is still being advised for roads in outlying Teton County due to low visibility and increasing winds.
Travelers should look for minute-‐by-‐minute updates on major routes in and out of the valley via www.WyoRoad.info.
PUBLIC WORKS: All available Teton County and Town of Jackson road crews and equipment have been on duty Monday and today to plow through the rain, snow, sleet and ice to make roads as safe as possible for residents and visitors.
Efforts have included clearing avalanches on county roads, as well as fighting flooding from snowmelt, standing water and snow-‐clogged storm drains in town. Teton County maintains 66 miles of roads. The Town of Jackson maintains 39 miles of roads and alleys, plus approximately 18 miles of sidewalks and boardwalks.
“In times like these, it really is a team effort with all hands on deck,” Jackson Public Works Director Larry Pardee said. “Our water, sewer, and engineering teams all jumped in to help the streets team.”
Crews have been working around the clock and do not expect conditions to ease for at least a few days.
“With storm conditions continuing, the roads have been filling in as fast as we can plow them,” said Teton County Road and Levee Manager Dave Gustafson. “This is not a winter you would want to be a snow plow driver. We are grateful to have such dedicated and hard-‐working crews, and we thank county residents for their support and patience.”
Sandbags and sand are available for residents and businesses in Teton County dealing with flooding from melting snow. Bags and sand are available for filling at the Town of Jackson Public Works shop (733-‐3079) or from Teton County Road and Levee (733-‐ 7190).
EMERGENCY RESPONSE: On Monday, the Jackson Police Department had fewer accident calls than usual for an icy day – four, compared to a more typical 10-‐12 on stormy days. Nethercott noted that the department operated much of the day with a skeletal staff since some patrol and investigations officers were unable to make it to work because they commute.
With more cars back on town roads Tuesday, fender-‐bender calls were expected to increase today and throughout the week.
“It’s still slick out there, so we ask people to be careful and slow down,” said Lt. Cole Nethercott of the Jackson Police Department. The “No Unnecessary Travel” advisory turned out to be an effective tool in cutting down on the number of accidents, and Nethercott thanked the community for taking caution.
“We appreciated everybody not going out yesterday and taking notice of the unusually slick road conditions,” Nethercott said. “Many people chose not to travel or couldn’t get here over the pass or through the canyons, so we didn’t have an epic day of collisions.”
TRANSIT: The Jackson/Teton County START Bus service has been doing its best to adapt to the changing winter storm conditions. Routes to and from Teton Valley were back in operation Tuesday, and other routes around town and to Teton Village were running normally.
“We are, however, at the mercy of road conditions and incidents,” Transit Director Darren Brugmann cautioned Monday.
If further changes to routes occur, START will provide frequent updates online at www.STARTbus.com.