A 140-H grader clears snow on Faulkner Loop Tuesday, January 4.
By ROSELYNN YAZZIE
FORT HALL — Recent snowstorms have the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Transportation busy the last two weeks with snow removal on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation maintaining Bureau of Indian Affairs routes and Tribal roads.
According to the Snow Control Policies and Procedures Manual the Department covers 340.89 miles during the winter months. Highway 91 is State of Idaho jurisdiction in addition to I-15 and I-86. Bannock County maintains Ellsworth, Siler, Edmo, Hawthorne, Poline ext. Lodge, Philbin, Cemetery, Ballard, Cutshalts, Hiline, Reservation Laughran, Swanson Loop Rio Vista and Frazier.
Transportation Manager, Anthony Pete Broncho said his foreman starts at about 3 a.m. to check the roads. Depending on the weather the early crew will start at 4 a.m. if needed; if conditions aren’t that bad they will start at 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. He covers the Gibson area, Broncho covers Bannock Creek area, and so forth so they can report to the Executive Director and the Fort Hall Business Council Chairman on the road conditions.
Transportation Manager Anthony Pete Broncho observes where plows are at in each of the districts.
Broncho said he’s glad to see the snow as the moisture is needed. He’s been at Transportation about 30 years and says it’s been awhile since they’ve seen snow like this. In the days of heavy snow he recalls they didn’t really go home, the shop was their home, there was also only five of them left to maintain the roads.
Overtime they’ve progressed and have 13 individuals who help with the removal now. There are two crews, an early morning crew consisting of six employees and the regular day shift crew of eight.
“When we have weather like how it is right now roads are drifting as soon as the plows go through and the winds just blowing it right back in again. So usually when we have days like this we usually just sit it out – but right now we’re doing our best to keep them open,” he said.
The bus routes are the first priority of being cleared. Snow plows and graders are sent to each district to clear roads. Next are assisting the Tribal Office Emergency Management with medical priorities and the Bannock Creek District. Public Works also does the medical priorities. Those needing assistance need doctor’s authorization to get on the priority list, which is compiled by the CHR program. Then they will assist with driveways and other needs as available, sometimes it depends due to the size of their equipment.
As of right now all the roads in Bannock Creek are drifting right back in as soon as they’re open.
Transportation advises people to not get close to workers clearing snow.
Broncho said it’s important for people to stay home and off the roads during severe snowstorms.
“Once they get on the main roads it really hinders our process of doing what we need to do,” he said.
He asks when people see their snowplows on the roads don’t follow them too close.
“If you can stay back and let them do the work because what happens once they get momentum going on those plows, a lot of times they have to lift it up and you might have a foot, two-foot of snow that’s still on the road and he’s trying to keep his traction and keep himself going. So if you go right behind him when he’s doing that you guys are going to get stuck and you’re going to mess up his routine,” he said.
It’s all a part of the process of the snow removal and widening the roads.
Broncho said they’re hoping in the future they can get their own mixture of magnesium chloride for ice melt like they have in town.