Road board approves snow dump lease

Monday, October 9, 2017 - 12:11
  • A sign and open gate at the entrance to the Eklutna, Inc’s North Eagle River Site on Sept. 29, 2017. The Chugiak Birchwood Eagle River Rural Road Service Area is moving forward with a plan to lease snow dump space from Eklutna beginning this year. (Star photo by Kirsten Swann)

As termination dust continues to appear on Chugiak-Eagle River mountaintops, local street maintenance crews are preparing for winter at lower elevations.

This year, that involves spending approximately $62,000 to rent a privately owned snow dump just north of Powder Ridge.

“It’s a win-win situation for everyone,” said Eagle River Street Maintenance general foreman Mark Littlefield. “We’ve been actively looking for a snow disposal site for many, many years.”

On Sept. 25, the Chugiak Birchwood Eagle River Rural Road Service Area (CBERRRSA) Board of Supervisors approved a proposal to rent space at the Eagle River site, which is owned by Eklutna, Inc. The space will be used to dump snow collected from Eagle River’s increasingly dense residential neighborhoods, Littlefield said. Throughout the community, a growing number of streets lack right-of-ways and easement space, making it increasingly difficult for municipal contractors to find places to store cleared snow.

“We’ve been getting creative for years,” Littlefield told the road board at its September meeting.

But now, he said, some streets have run out of room. Finding other ways to store the snow was becoming more expensive than the cost of actually leasing a snow dump. The supervisors agreed: Something had to give.

Without a solution, said CBERRRSA board member Jose Vicente, “The situation is going to get worse.”

While the municipality has been searching for a local snow dump site for years, site selection is governed by strict regulations and requirements regarding drainage, location and other factors. Within the CBERRRSA boundaries, options are few, Littlefield said.

“There is very limited land out there for a snow disposal site,” the road foreman said.

Eklutna’s Eagle River site has all the space the municipality needs, Littlefield said. A week after the CBERRRSA board voted in favor of the new snow hauling plan, the municipality was in the process of notifying homeowners on affected streets, the foreman said. Residents would need to remove parked vehicles and other curbside impediments, Littlefield said.

“We’re just delivering letters now,” he said.

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