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December 26, 2006 05:30 PM UTC

Tuesday Open Thread

  • by: Colorado Pols

Enough of this “goodwill toward men” crap.


41 thoughts on “Tuesday Open Thread

  1. and the repair work begin as soon as possible. Peace on earth….no more corporate welfare or military industrial complex domination. Break up the monopoly of the media.

  2. Denver’s Mayor says he will be reviewing DIA’s response to the blizzard today. Here are some cost impact estimates for him to consider:

    DIA airport closure cost to travelers and airlines
    Source: Air Transport Association

    4700 passengers* stranded at DIA for 45 hours = $6.4 million
    3,000** airline flights delayed 45 hours = $505 million*** (operating cost loss excluding revenue)
    375,000**** air travelers impacted system-wide by DIA closure (2 hours each) = $22.7 million

    Total = $534 million

    *Assuming $30.26 per hour as the average value of a passenger’s time
    **Denver International Airport’s estimate of flight operations impacted by 2006 Blizzard
    ***On average, extra crew time and fuel burn alone are estimated to cost the industry $39.21 per minute. Maintenance and aircraft ownership costs totaled $19.75 per minute, while all other costs averaged $3.37 per minute.
    ****Associated Press report

    This cost impact estimate doesn’t include lost airline revenue or lost “goodwill” to the airline, airport or Denver.

    The blizzard of 2003 was just a fierce as the 2003 blizzard that hit Denver but somehow the airport managed to reopen after only 32 hours.

    If Pena blvd. can be kept open during the worst of the blizzard, equal emphasis must be given to at least one runway. No reasonable person expects planes to fly during the peak of a blizzard, but they should expect the airport to use all of their respurces to not lose their runways entirely, which is apparently what happened.

    What went wrong in 2006? All things being equal(blizzard, equipment, and crews) the only variable seems to be airport management’s response to the blizzard. It is crutial that Denver’s mayor fix DIA’s snow response before the next blizzard. It’s an economic imperative.

    1. All the families on our cul-de-sac got out the morning after the storm and we dug a 1 car wide lane the length of the street and 1 lane to each driveway by lunch. So we were in business about 24 hours before the airport.

      Up in Boulder where we got more snow than DIA…

    2. Took a cab in Denver today. The driver brought up the lack of snow removal. His take: Denver simply doesn’t have the money for snow removal of the magnitude that’s needed; too much money budgeted for police, instead.

      Now I personally have no idea what the real story is. But that’s the take of, let’ call him, Bernie X. And I’m sure he’s repeating that point to numerous passengers each day.


    3. “The blizzard of 2003 was just a fierce as the 2003 blizzard that hit Denver but somehow the airport managed to reopen after only 32 hours.”

      I wasn’t here, but I have to question whether both storms were identical – the whole basis of criticizing the response this time. I do know that spring storms are usually a lot wetter, which means the snow doesn’t tend to drift as much.

      The only comparison I’ve seen between the storms has been the snowfall amount (both 26″ which is a figure I don’t know is verified – I plan to look into it when I have more free time). But what was the moisture content? What were the wind speeds? How long was it windy?

      “All things being equal”

      That’s presumptuous – see above.

      Now before anyone gets on my case and accuses me of being an apologist for Hickenlooper let me point out that I want to make sure all the facts are on the table. As I’ve said, the only comparison I’ve seen between storms is the snowfall and there’s a lot more to a storm than that.

      As far as the math goes, I’d like to see links to articles stating that the values here are fair (for example, where does the $30.26 figure come from?)



        1. That’s the basis of valuing the PAID time for people if I’m reading that website correctly. However most of the travellers were on holiday. So while their time was wasted at the airport instead of being spent with family, or out on the ski slopes, or whatever, I don’t think it’s accurate to portray that as a measurable monetary cost. After all businesses weren’t losing paid work time, and I believe that figure is meant to measure that.

  3. Our first inclination has been to give the City and DIA the benefit of all doubts, but it sure does seem to have been a problem from both entities in responding to a blizzard that, while large and wet (i.e., heavy snow), shouldn’t have taken quite that long to respond to.

    Especially since there were PLENTY of warnings.

    On a more fundamental level, there’s got to be a “break-even” point where the cost of keeping snowplows in storage (and training employees to drive them) “just in case” a major snowstorm occurs is too excessive in light of the risk. But do we need to re-calibrate that point?

    Here in Centennial it’s a week after the storm and our local neighborhood streets got one quick plow by a front-end grader that opened up a narrow, one-way path. And even that wasn’t down to the road surface. The roads are quickly becoming impassable because the temps aren’t high enough to melt the snow completely, just enough to provide an icy, slick surface on about 6 inches to 1 foot of compacted snow underneath. Accidents are happening.

      1. Comparing the amount of time it takes to dig out a small airport like Centennial or even a slightly larger one like Colorado Springs to the time it takes to dig out something the size of DIA is not comparing equal things at all.

        I saw one statistic over the weekend that if you lined up all of the “plow lanes” it takes to clear DIA (without windo blowing the snow back), it would reach from Denver to San Francisco. That’s 950 miles as the crow flies.

        I am not excusing anyone’s responsibility here just pointing out a couple of logical points.

        DIA is not designed to handle large amounts of snow in a small period, even though I somewhat recall that being proised when they built it. Of course, they also said it was relatively safe from tornados and two struck the runways during the two years I worked there.

        On the flip side of the coin, moderate snow (or heavy rain) that often snarl other airports, is handled rather easily here and with only minor delays. So we have the ability to weather most storms, just not big snowmakers.

        1. one of the taglines was something like, ” never be delayed in Chicago because of a snow storm in Denver again “.  It was a long time ago, but I do remember it.

        2. Willis you should get a job in DIA PR. Quite a line of hooey you got there!!!! When other airports are open before DIA even begins to plow the first runway, your analysis is just full of it!!!!

          1. at Centennial, Jeffco and CoSprings combined wouldn’t make a decent dent in the taxiways alone at DIA — let alone the ramp and runways. We have a great airport that saves the nations airlines millions of dollars every year because of the way it is laid out — not many places in the US where a jet can do a rollout on landing and be within a half-mile of the concourse….before we talk about what this hiccup cost…let’s do some full cost accounting and add in the benefits.

            1. It is not required to keep all runways opened. In fact, had they simply kept open 16R/34L and 16L/34R, or simply alternated between the two, then it would have been easy to keep at least one open. It is surprising to find that the airport does not have its own equipment. They should have enough to cover at least several runways at all time. And yes, hick and current airport management should take licks on this one (as should the earlier mayors and airport management).

              But this will hopefully inspire the mayor and gov. to push RTD to get a LRT or even just use a regular commuter line out the airport. One of the major issues was an inability to sleep or even leave the airport by the customers. Since I am an air force/airline brat (as well as did a lot of flying all over the country due to several tech jobs), I have spent a lot of time (2.75 days in one case) in such airports as O’Hare. And it was fun as a single with a bunch of AA employees. But, I can not imagine being stuck in any airport with a wife and 2 kids. That would make me hate the airport. Hick needs to push a line out to there ASAP as well as obtain more equipment just for the airport.

                1. The tracks are generally in place. This can be sped up a great deal and can have the dia link to downtown working in under 4 years. But it has to be pushed.

    1. I don’t know how accurate it was, but it said that FAA regulations require no more than 3 inches difference in height along a runway, and that by the time a plow reached the end of a runway, the start of it had already had too much snow blown back on it.  It wasn’t so much the depth of the snow as the wind blowing drifts onto the runway.  Maybe they need better ways to deflect drifts or something.  But it didn’t sound like a lack of snow plows.

        1. Rocky Mountain News, not Denver Post.  Here is the link:


          Here is the bit about the surface variations:

          “With airliners landing at 130 to 150 mph, any imperfection in the surface of the runway can cause the pilot to lose control, explained John Kinney, DIA’s operations manager. “You can’t afford to have a snow pothole on your runway.”

          Any variation more than 3 inches high is forbidden, he said. Also forbidden are large chunks of snow or ice that could be sucked into a jet engine.”

  4. Any aiport built in modern times needs to be able to handle most any emergency that is thrown at it.
    Denver happens to set a mile above sea level next to the Rocky Mountains…Duh
    Wouldn’t one of the priorities in building that thing possibly be its ability to REMOVE SNOW?
    Especially with the warnings that they had?
    Hell, even in Colorado Springs we heard that much of Denver was expected to receive over 24″ of snow,…..before the first flakes even fell.
    My opinion is that at the very least, they should of had a couple runways open.
    To completely shut down over a little bit of snow is making Denver even more of a laughing stock than when it was built.

    1. Well, probably just the statement that the airport shouldn’t have shut down. You might think it’s worth risking lives to keep landing airplanes but I don’t.

      The issue isn’t whether it should have shut down, but was it shut down for too long? In other words could it have been opened sooner?

      1. it shouldn’t have to shut down period.
        What would DIA do if it was located in the northeast where snow is measured in feet and not inches?
        They would be open only a few months of the year.
        They need to admit they fucked up and are totally NOT prepared for weather period.
        It is either a bad system or bad management, but any major airport that has to shut down ALL operations over a little snow, belongs operating in Florida, not next to a mountain range.

        1. Okay then. Let’s keep the airport open no matter how low the visibility, no matter how strong the wind. If a plane crashes, well that’s the price of being a world class city, right?

          Get real. Man is not equal to mother nature and never will be. We can do what we can but there are always going to be powerful storms we can’t just pretend aren’t happening, keep things going, business as usual. It doesn’t work that way.

          1. by closing like they did, they show just how 2nd rate they really are.
            They promoted that money pit as state of the art.
            I don’t think so, weather or no weather…..

        2. Safety has to be the number one concern of any airport, period. In this case, not only was it not safe to allow planes to land or take off, it was not even safe to attempt to drive to the airport. Closing the airport was the best way to try to stem the number of people trying to get there. Instead of 5,000 people stcuk at the airport, it could have quickly gotten to 20,000 or more.

          Once again I will point out, DIA better handles more traffic in worse conditions that any other airport in the country. The fact they have only closed twice in their 11-year history is telling of the adverse conditiions they have stayed open through. I doubt there is any other airport in the country (maybe the world) that would have stayed open under the conditions DIA faced last week.

          The one criticism I would have would be against United for not stopping their flights to Denver earlier than they did, or at least not board passengers who were connecting in Denver. We all knew this storm was going to be really bad and everyone in my industry (travel) knew DIA would have to close at least fro a while. It was cruel to those passengers to send them here knowing damn well they would not get out again. If they had remained at their original airports, it would have been easier to reroute to their final destinations.

          1. that you are, let me suggest that it isn’t so much–for me–that the airport was closed for forty (or was it fifty) some odd hours. (Although I’m not sure of the stats for the other four or five busiest airports in the country, I’ll bet the DIA closure ranks as, at least, “excessive.”) No, the problem for me is the spin the DIA spokesman kept giving the situation at DIA at the height of the storm. Every time he–his name was Steve something–was interviewed he kept insisting that, no, the airport wasn’t closed, but that the airlines had shut down operations, thus effectively closing the airport. It wasn’t until much later that, yes, the DIA spokesman announced the airport was closed; not just the airlines, but the airport, as well. Of course, this kind of spin is expected from the Hickies.

            Question though: If DIA was able to keep Pena Blvd open, why couldn’t they keep at least one runway open?

            Incidentally, didacticism becomes a little, um, wearying… 

            1. Pena was closed by the state patrol during the height of the storm. Even during most of the storm it may have been “open” but was hardly passable. The news crews couldn’t in or out. I saw commentators on each of the channels saying their people who made it to the airport early on were stuck there for the duration.

              Because the storm kept me from going home, it became my job here to monitor the situation at the airport so we would be able to give info to our travellers. That’s why I have these details in my mind. In case you’re wondering, I work for a corporate travel agency and we had several of our travellers stranded amongst the 1000’s at DIA, or stuck elsewhere because their plane was stuck at DIA.

              I never saw a DIA spokesman saying they weren’t closed. Every newscast I saw and every official bulletin (which we get here at the office) said it was closed from late afternoon on Wednesday (don’t remeber the exact time) until noon on Friday. Although I should point out that the industry terminology for a closed airport is “suspended operations” or “no operations”. That was the same term that was used in the hours and days following 9/11 to. Both terms mean nothing is coming or going, but there is a split-hair difference between them that deals with the operations of things the travelling public doesn’t see. DIA was in “suspended operations” during what the rest of us would call “closed”.

    2. The head of DIA listend to Gecko’s rants about lowering taxes and they reduced their snow removal staff just to reduce taxes due to Gecko’s request.

      And now he’s bitching about the slower snow removal… Just no keeping him happy. I guess Gecko’s real policy is full taxes for everything he uses, no taxes for anything else.

      1. the snow removal per se. It has zero to do with me, I just think it is pretty funny. Piss ant back woods town…..

        What I’m saying is that the City of Denver, the Dems first choice for Gov (‘ol Hick), and DIA itself are a joke.
        45 hours closed over a little snow!
        What a laugh. Hick has proved twice now in just a few weeks that he has a hard enough time running the black shit hole named Denver, and could never run the entire state.

        I do have fond memories of 1995 when DIA was a laughing stock,…..a year and a half behind schedule, and 2 billion dollars over budget.
        Oh, but it does have a state of the art baggage system.

        1. I was confused when you seemed to be advocating killing people in order to keep up the image of DIA.  Now it all makes sense: it’s your chance to take a slug at a Democratic mayor.  Ah, yes.  Facts be damned, then.

  5. TO:  All City departments & agencies
    FR:  J.H.
    RE:  additional snow this week:  dealing with it
    DATE: 12/26/06
      More snow is expected later this week.  As such, I am hereby ordering all city departments and agencies to give top priority to the collection of sleds and boxes of hot chocolate (preferrably the “Swiss Mist” brand) a.s.a.p.
      This is urgent.  It is imperative that I keep everyone happy the next time Mother Nature dumps on us.  Remember, Nero may have fiddled while Rome burned, and Bush may have read “My Pet Goat” as the towers fell, but John Hickenlooper will dispense hot beverages as the snow falls.
    P.S.  Someone should stop at Target, pick up a couple of new snow blowers and a few more shovels, and take them out to DIA.
    P.P.S.  I understand that the Dept. of Public Works and Dept. of Aviation can hire some inexpensive hourly labor to operate the blowers and shovels from the general contractor who finished Tom Tancredo’s basement. 

  6. I crewed on P3Cs flying out of Keflavik, Iceland for a couple of years.  You can have a 24 x 7 airport, even in much worse weather than we saw this last week.  You just have to have to have pilots and aircrews that accept landing on six inches of ice, and by the way, the wind here was trivial compared to Kef. 

    Really, the determining factor here is $.  More $ = more plows and drivers = less down time. But the fact is the citizens of Denver were not that much impacted by DIA being down.  A bunch of foreigners were impacted.  They won’t vote for John in any case. 

    We’ve now had a series of mayors that have struggled with this problem, and while I’m prepared to maintain it’s because they are a bunch of chowderheaded Dems, the more likely explanation is that DIA snow removal is not a top priority for the Denver public works crew.  The question is what will you give up to get it?  Take wheelchairs away from invalids?  Whine to Ritter and beg for money that the State probably doesn’t have, and won’t give anyway.  Petition the Republican administration at the FAA to bail-out a Dem machine city? 

    I suggest all you altruistic Libs demonstrate the depth of your resevoir of human kindness and buy a shovel.  Fact is, until it is one of them ugly market based priorities, most of us are going to do nothing but watch it on the news. Hick did look like he hadn’t gotten much sleep.  Points for trying.

  7. The cry babies that start crying “why can’t the government save me from mother nature”  as soon as the flakes started flying reminded me of the Katrina babies.  Have we become so insulated from nature that we expect the government can smooth the punches of mother nature into a mere speed bump, so that we can still make it to afternoon yoga? 

    Get real….

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