For Ski Santa Fe regulars, it’s a familiar sight during the winter months — massive orange snowplows churning up and down Hyde Park Road, aka State Highway 475. It’s awe-inspiring to see the plows send waves of snow soaring over the guardrail into the woods below. The plows are, in many ways, the lifeline of the ski basin, which draws locals and tourists alike, pumping much-needed dollars into our local economy. It’s a critical job, but it’s always been a bit of a mystery to most people. Heading up that long and winding road, I’ve often wondered who pilots these plows. What is their story? For me, it was a dream come true when I got the chance to sit down with a pair of these winter warriors and get the inside scoop on the life of a snowplow driver.
Nelson Terrazas has the easygoing and steady manner that comes with handling a 24,000-pound vehicle on the edge of a cliff in every kind of weather. He’s been pushing around snow on highway 475 for four years now, and during the warm months he is a Bridge Crew supervisor for New Mexico Department of Transportation (DOT) District 5. His supervisor, Kenneth Gallegos, the highway maintenance manager for DOT District 5, was kind enough to sit with me as well. Professional and paternal, you get the feeling that Gallegos has seen it all.
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