Much of Idaho greeted 2004 amid blizzard warnings
and winter weather advisories.
A New Years Day storm created a winter wonderland of sorts,
bringing with it some not-so-wonderful side effects. At one
point on Jan. 2, the storm forced closure of 25 routes across
south-central and southeastern Idaho, including sections of
Interstates 15 and 86.
In the face of the storm, ITD crews became highway heroes as
travelers made their way home after the holidays ...
Dan Paiz takes extra
care on the road
My husband works for the ITD in Shoshone. We live
in Gooding and I work in Twin Falls and travel the interstate
to work everyday. I would like to publicly thank one of the
snow plow drivers.
Dan Paiz works out of the Jerome shed and has the route from
the Jerome exit to the Twin Falls exit (maybe farther
but thats the distance I go). The last week of driving
on the roads has reminded me of the great job that Dan does.
(he) seems to take extra care. There is always more
sand in fact it is very evident exactly where he starts
and I always feel safer on his stretch of road.
him a little extra pat on the back
- Susan Bolton, Gooding
High praise for tireless work
Thank you for your comprehensive website. It is by far
the best local weather and road information site I have seen.
I am a teacher and have forwarded your site to my classroom
where I will send it out to all teachers in Moscow School
District 281. I have also copied your poster to keep at home,
place in my lesson plan book, and for my husband to post for
his students at the University of Idaho.
All too often we make our complaints known. Today you deserve
high praise for this site with even higher praise and thanks
to your tireless men and women on the roads trying to keep
them open and usable in all types of weather. Thank you.
- Caroline M. Bitterwolf, Moscow
For those behind the snow plow,
clearing the road is a labor of love
By Brandon Fiala
The Times-News (Twin Falls)
SHOSHONE -- She gets the call at 5 a.m. -- "There's snow."
Heather Ogden, 23, drives to work and climbs into a bright
yellow Mack truck and prepares to push tons of snow off local
She rumbles down the road adjusting the front blade's height
and occasionally pushing a button in the center console to
drop sand and salt.
"It's fun, we always pray for snow," Ogden said.
Ogden will keep plowing until the roads are clear.
Recent snowstorms have caused havoc for motorists, doubling
the number of accidents and closing roads. But Ogden and six
other drivers based in Shoshone are prepared to ease the trouble.
"We've been busy and hitting it hard," said Dennis
Jensen, road foreman for the Idaho Transportation Department.
"We've gotten a lot more snowfall in a shorter period
of time than last year."
Ogden said she and others decide what roads to plow based
on traffic volume, accident reduction and other factors. On
Saturday afternoon, she drove down Idaho Highway 24 between
Shoshone and Minidoka to clear snowy patches.
"We have to watch out for the public, our No. 1 thing
is public safety," she said.
Ogden started working at the ITD about three years ago as
a flagger during the summer, and decided to become a snow
plow driver because her sister used to drive and enjoyed it.
Ogden said she is always on-call during the winter but usually
works from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. When not clearing roads, Ogden
does maintenance work like patching potholes or building snow
"You get used to the early mornings," she said.
Ogden said driving a snow plow is easy, but it took time to
"I now find it easy, but when I first started it was
different," she said.
Ogden's confidence comes from her training. She had to get
a commercial drivers' license and take ITD classes. Then she
rode in a snow plow with another driver before going solo.
"The hardest part of being a driver is knowing what to
do based on the weather conditions," she said.
For example, drivers will sand roads after freezing rain or
fog, Ogden said.
Ogden and the other drivers are also responsible for the ITD's
road reports, which are available online or over the phone.
Ogden is a full-time employee of the transportation department.
The snow plows are converted into dump trucks in the summer
and used for maintenance.
Ogden said she is looking forward to a raise in about a month.
Currently, Ogden said she makes $9.49 per hour and is looking
to make $10.31 after her raise.
Most of the work is routine, but Ogden said there are occasional
surprises. Drivers often come across stuck motorists and wandering
Ogden said she usually stops to help -- depending on traffic
and road conditions -- and is watchful of deer that like to
walk on roads to move easier.
During her first winter, Ogden said she was driving on Idaho
Highway 75 when a motorist headed toward her lost control.
"I would have done a lot of damage to him if he had he
hit my plow, but I pulled into the barrow pit," she said.
Nobody was injured, but Ogden said the accident was enough
of a scare for her.
Snow plow drivers even get stuck themselves, Ogden said.
"I think most of the drivers have gotten stuck before,"
If a driver gets stuck, another plow is dispatched to pull
it out, Ogden said.
As motorists can expect to see more snow plows on the road,
they need to take several precautions, Jensen said.
"Let the plows do their job -- give them the right-of-way,"
he said. "And if you pass one of them, always signal."
To check the transportation department's road reports, visit
the Web at www.state.id.us and click on "road report"
or call 1-888-IDA-ROAD.