Wednesday’s traffic-snarling snowstorm in the Rio Rancho area stretched resources thin for the city and police department.
Every bit of Rio Rancho’s snow-fighting equipment was used – including four large salt/sand spreaders, four smaller spreaders with attached plows, four graders and five crews in city vehicles who helped clear intersections.
Each crew has four members who work 12-hour shifts.
There were a total of eight heavy equipment operators working 12-hour shifts with four operators per shift “from Wednesday until Friday,” said Rio Rancho City Manager Matt Geisel.
Many of the city’s firefighters, officers and dispatchers, he added, “stayed after their shifts and volunteered to come in and help our community.”
As of Friday at about 5 p.m. after data was tallied, there were 14 minor crash reports taken and one crash with injuries, officials said. That report, however, was preliminary and numbers could increase.
The snowstorm limped into Rio Rancho Wednesday morning, but ramped up considerably by 4 p.m. with more intense snow and colder temperatures that led to slippery streets.
Thoughout the storm, many Rio Rancho streets were shut down, the result of minor crashes or sliding cars blocking traffic. At Rockaway Blvd. NE and Northern Blvd. NE, drivers with 4×4 vehicles helped those who couldn’t make it up the hill.
The Observer’s Web site was alive with stories from residents who had to deal with the storms.
“I left work off Montano at 5 p.m.,” said Antonette Varela. “By the time I made it to 528, it was closed at Coors. Tried going through Corrales, but the road going back to Rio Rancho was shut down. Had to backtrack to Alameda and that road to Rio Rancho was closed.”
Varela said she ended up parking her car at a Crispy Kreme “and had my husband pick me up in his 4X4. But by that time going up Coors to Unser got closed. We made it home by 9 p.m.”
The city is responsible for removing snow on 139 miles of roads, which can be daunting depending on the severity of the storm. The city does not remove snow and ice on residential streets.
On Thursday, warmer temperatures and a heavy dose of sunlight took care of that. By Friday, most of the roads were clear and by Friday evening, traffic was back to normal.