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Heidi Shaffer, Published January 06 2011

Snow removal a daunting task for city crews

Much of the southern metro is still tunneling out from snowdrifts that top 12 feet or more in some areas.

Crews are using super-sized snowblowers to carve through hard-hit neighborhoods such as West Fargo’s Eagle Run and Fargo’s Osgood.

High winds kept crews out of Eagle Run until Saturday, when the blowing snow calmed down, said Barry Johnson, West Fargo public works director.

“The way the wind was whipping, it was brutal,” he said.

Because of the blowing snow, there were drifts as high as a house in some areas, he said.

In Fargo, plows managed to get through southern neighborhoods once each day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but only after the large snowblowers first dug a path, said Ben Dow, Fargo public works director.

The 8-foot blowers mounted on the front of city plows do what regular plow blades cannot: slice through high drifts.

West Fargo is using three city-owned blowers and another two rented from local contractors in 12-hour shifts, 24 hours a day to clear Eagle Run, said Chris Brungardt, assistant director of public works.

Fargo has four of its large snowblower units out around the clock clearing southwestern developments such as Wood Haven and Osgood, Dow said.

Street crews aren’t the only ones contending with the high drifts. Residents have been clearing the large drifts from driveways and sidewalks.

Stephanie Bonilla is spending her first winter in her home along Fargo’s 51st Avenue South and said neighbors warned her about drifting snow.

Those warnings came true over the weekend when snow blew in as high as her neighbor’s deck and halfway up her front door. Driveways in the neighborhood took a couple of days to clear, Bonilla said.

As of Wednesday, roads were cleared enough to allow two lanes of traffic, but crews will continue to widen streets as snow removal progresses along primary and emergency routes, Dow and Brungardt say.

The size of these drifts isn’t unprecedented. West Fargo crews saw similar sizes last year, Brungardt said.

And the piles don’t compare to those seen in 1996 and 1997, one of the worst winters in recent history, Dow said.

“In ’96-’97, it was definitely worse,” he said. “If we can just catch a break here … we can definitely get caught up.”

WF Public Works posts online snow updates

The West Fargo Public Works Department will post online updates as snow removal progresses.

For more information, visit the city’s website: www.westfargond.gov; Twitter page: www.


Works; or become a fan of West Fargo Public Works on Facebook.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511