Columbia Public Works Preparing Early for Winter Weather
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Public Works Department began preparing for winter weather with a safety seminar and by practicing snow plow routes Wednesday morning.
The department held a safety training orientation where snowplow drivers worked with equipment and learned safety precautions for the possibly dangerous driving conditions.
Steven Sapp, the department's public information specialist, said this process is important for the safety of drivers and all citizens.
"Our job is to go out there and make the roadways safer," Sapp said. "But we have to practice that safety as well. We want to make sure our operators know how to safely operate that equipment, how to push that snow so it is off the road in the most beneficial way possible, and making sure they know where their routes are."
Drivers connected trucks to plows and will drive around their designated routes Wednesday afternoon to get familiar with the roads.
In March 2013, some Columbia residents complained that their roads were left unplowed in the days following a storm that dumped almost 10 inches in some parts of the city.
"Last winter's big storm was somewhat of a surprise. Mother nature is beyond our control. We think what we do works but sometimes it works better than others," Sapp said.
Sapp said some changes have been made since last winter to make sure the process of clearing roads goes more smoothly this winter.
"One of the things that will improve the process is that the council has passed an ordinance that cars may not be parked on first and second priority snow routes when there are two inches of snow or more," Sapp said. "We will be releasing a large education campaign to let residents know that they cannot park on those streets when snow accumulates."
The Columbia City Council passed the ordinance and it will take effect once signs are put up on those streets. Vehicles will be ticketed and can be towed on site.
The department also added to its stock of vehicles for clearing snow. The department added a new Motor Grader with an attachable bat-wing that can clear two lanes at once.
Sapp said he is not worried about the amount of plows the department has at its disposal.
"We have a fairly large fleet just within Public Works Street Division," Sapp said. "However, we can draw resources from other departments within the city. We can scale it up depending on the severity of the snow event."
Sapp said once a storm hits, drivers plow first and second priority routes which consist of main roadways by which people travel across and through Columbia. They were approved on a map by the Columbia City Council in 2011.