Rural Idaho roads struggle to keep clear amid snowstorms

“We’re kind of on our own.”
Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 7:48 PM MST
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CASSIA COUNTY, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Driving down a main road like Interstate 84, or even a state highway like Highway 75 with snow on the ground can be a tough drive. But if you turn onto the back roads, the conditions can become treacherous.

“Some of us slide off or roll-off, and then they’re stuck in the middle of the road, and then we’re waiting to get them out of the way so that we can go,” said Scott Arnell, a Cassia County Resident.

“There’s probably a line of 15 cars that the loaders just got broke free,” said Burley Feed Lot owner Matt Beck. “Just a lot of cars that were stuck.” This is leaving drivers around the area confused as to why some roads are cleared, and others aren’t.

“I have followed the road plows from Burley to Oakley when there’s not a snowflake in sight,” said Arnell. “All the way to Oakley, and they turn around and drive back to Burley and I don’t understand that.”

While the Idaho Transportation Department is able to plow the state highways and US freeways, it’s not able to plow the back roads because they’re not funded by the state.

In the case of State Highway 27, which ends in Oakley, ITD isn’t able to plow the road once the official designation of 27 ends. As for county-owned roads?

“We’re kind of on our own,” said Beck. Beck clears his road for himself and his neighbors, so trucks are able to make deliveries to their properties. “We got a lot of trucks running on the road,” Beck said. “Ourselves, our neighbors have a lot of trucks, there’s a lot of cows out here so we try to keep it open for our trucks.”

With the owners of properties along these roads clearing them for themselves, no access to salt has led to some patches of road that are left a veritable sheet of ice.

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