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New snow policy reduces complaint calls

New snow policy reduces complaint calls

January 12th, 2011 in News

Mandi Steele/FULTON SUN photo: A MoDOT snow clearing truck was out Tuesday plowing Business 54 in Fulton. The department reported U.S. 54 and I-70 throughout Callaway County were cleared of snow as of 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Callaway County has adopted a new snow clearing policy that was successful in reducing calls from residents complaining about slick roads. Under normal snow circumstances, snow plowing crews do not work on clearing snow until after snowfall has stopped.

Paul Winkelmann, Callaway County highway administrator, said Tuesday the county followed its new snow removal policy after Monday's snowfall. As a general rule, the county will not dispatch all snow plows until after snowfall has stopped. But exceptions will be made during extended snowfall or icy conditions.

Winkemann said the new policy worked well, and he had very few calls Tuesday from people complaining about slick roads.

"Before 5 p.m. Monday we plowed and applied cinders to all of the county's blacktop roads, bad hills and curves. Then until about 10 p.m., two plowing and cinder trucks were placed on standby to handle emergency calls. We wanted to make sure all of the school buses completed their rounds safely and were back. They didn't get any calls other than a bus situation at Holts Summit," Winkelmann said.

Since the snow stopped during the night, the entire county road clearing crew was called in at 5 a.m. to begin working on roads.

"It normally takes from 10 to 12 hours to cover the entire county. We will push hard all day long and apply cinders," Winkelmann said.

Winkelmann said he does not have enough staff to work crews 24 hours a day, and it is not safe to work them without sleep or during hazardous conditions at night.

Winkelmann said the county's salt and cinder supply is "holding up fairly well. It's about as good as can be expected for this time of the year. We have a good stockpile and we never have run out in the eight years since I have been here."

Missouri Department of Transportation crews have been working steadily since the snowstorm on Monday. They started first on main routes such as I-70 and U.S. 54 in Callaway County.

By 5 p.m. Tuesday both I-70 and U.S. 54 were clear throughout Callaway County. But traffic was disrupted Tuesday afternoon on I-70. An 11:30 a.m. accident blocked traffic for several hours on the eastbound lane at Jonesburg in Montgomery County.

State routes had a lower priority and were not plowed until after the main routes were cleared.

Winkelmann has made available answers to frequently asked questions about Callaway County's new snow removal policy.

The questions and answers are:

When does plowing begin?

The county will not usually dispatch plows until after a snowfall has stopped. Exceptions may be made during extended snowfalls, but plows will not be sent out in hazardous conditions. If snowfall stops during regular working hours, plows may be dispatched at that time. If the snowfall stops during the night or early morning, plows will be dispatched after 5 a.m. to accommodate the traveling public. Weekend and holiday plowing is at a reduced level.

What gets plowed?

Callaway County has nearly 820 miles of roads that are maintained. Roads are prioritized according to traffic and area served such as schools and emergency services.

What is the plowing procedure?

The County does not assure a completely bare road and it will not cinder entire sections of roadway. County plows phase their operation in the following manner:

  1. Make the road passable by cleaning one lane in each direction.

Cindering takes place at problem locations, including intersections, curves and hills.

  1. Cleanup, during which ice and slush are removed after the sun is allowed to do its work.

What about property damage caused by plowing?

Fence and mailbox damage: the County will repair at its expense only fences and boxes which were damaged by actual contact with County equipment. Damage resulting from snow flying from the plow is not the responsibility of the County.

What is my responsibility?

Do not plow snow from driveways onto or across County roads. Piles of snow left on or near the road can freeze into a solid mass, creating a hazardous situation for vehicles and snowplows. Accidents and damages caused by snow piles placed in the roadways may result in liability to the property owner. As snow is plowed from roadways, County operators leave as little snow as possible across driveways. County removal of this snow is not feasible and is the property owner's responsibility.

What about parked vehicles?

County residents are reminded to remove parked vehicles from County roads to assist in snow removal. If to many vehicles are in the way the roadway may not be plowed.

What if I get stranded or stuck?

The County Highway Department may assist stranded motorists by contacting law enforcement/emergency personnel. The department will not attempt to remove stuck vehicles from ditches, snow banks or any other impediment.