The city of Denver cried uncle Friday and announced that it's no longer just relying on its own crews to clear the ice and snow from residential streets -- it's hiring contractors.Snowpacked and icy streets created over the last seven storms have hampered travel in many neighborhoods, prompting thousands of residents to blast the mayor and the City Council for their slow response to snow removal.Half of the residential streets still have not been plowed.On Friday, Mayor John Hickenlooper said he's heard from many the residents who have vented their frustrations."We're going to call in additional contractors, both with manpower and equipment," he said.He outlined a strategy that is narrowly focused, so instead of clearing the snow and ice from curb to curb on all of the residential streets, the snowplow crews will focus on clearing a 10- to 12-foot lane.The cost of the additional manpower and equipment is estimated to be $8 million to $10 million, which is coming out of a contingency fund that currently has $16 million."We don't control the weather. The weather deals the card, and we play the hand," Hickenlooper said.The news that Denver will double the number of crews and equipment on the street is welcome news to residents, especially those who are still snowed in."Everybody on all these blocks has called 311. 'Please, please plow us,'" said Denver resident Lisa Gilford.Gilford said her Mayfair neighborhood near 12th Avenue and Ivy Street has the worst streets in town. A water line project closed their roads last summer, but when weather delayed the project, the road signs closing their streets stayed put but the plows stayed away."We have called and called and called and nobody has come to help us out," said resident Ed Mehner.It's even more frustrating because a construction machine that sits idle on the corner street could be used to clear it."That road grader has been sitting there since Nov. 2, not being used by anybody," said Gilford.Public works crews said they are working as quickly as they can.The new crews will start on Monday because the weather is expected to be warmer. Crews hope to clear 60 to 100 blocks a day.The city said it is hoping to add 20 more crews with each crew manning 10 machines. On Friday, city crews cleared 88 blocks with 77 pieces of equipment.
Denver is posting daily updates about its snow removal progress. To see it click here.