KAMAS — Temperatures along the Wasatch Front are warming up, but in the high country, workers are still tackling some of winter's lingering woes.
The Utah Department of Transportation is working to clear Mirror Lake Highway by Memorial Day weekend.
UDOT has five blowers, plows and graders deliberately digging through the snow and ice. Crews have consistently had to cut through drifts 4-feet to 6-feet deep.
“It’s one of the last stretches of highway in the state of Utah that gets opened,” said Tyler Page, UDOT station supervisor.
Page knows the road well. He's seen it in just about every condition anyone could imagine while working with UDOT over the past 32 years.
"We've cut through some drifts 12- to 14-feet deep,” Page said. “(There's) almost twice as much snow as last year, but three years ago, it was deeper. They didn't get the road open until July 6 that year.”
Mirror Lake Highway, state Route 150, runs from Kamas to the Wyoming border through the High Uintas and is designated one of Utah's scenic byways.
There are 15 miles of snow-covered road, and crews have a way to go before they clear all of it.
“We're just about to the top of the summit, and we've got to go clear over to Sulphur campground, which is about 10 miles away," Page said.2 comments on this story
It takes a lot of patience to plow through massive mounds of dense snow and shave away the walls of ice until the road appears again. The work can be treacherous at times, he said. Crews have gotten stuck a few times.
Keeping the equipment running can be a challenge.
“If one of the blowers goes down, that sets us back,” Page said.
If all goes well, crews will have the road open by next Friday.
UDOT has a $24 million snow removal budget. So far, it has spent $20 million, including this project. With the remaining money, it will fix potholes and take care of other maintenance work.