ITD News
Associated Press
News Link

Winter storms ring in the new year

Much of Idaho greeted 2004 amid blizzard warnings and winter weather advisories.

A New Year’s 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 that’s 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. …give 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 roads.

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 fences.

"You get used to the early mornings," she said.

Ogden said driving a snow plow is easy, but it took time to become confident.

"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 deer.

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," she said.

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 and click on "road report" or call 1-888-IDA-ROAD.