City of Columbia Behind in Number of Snow Plows

Related Story

COLUMBIA - Last week's snowstorms made a mess of Mid-Missouri roads and some Columbia residents weren't happy about the city's clean up effort.

"There was a lot of stuff that was left untouched," Columbia resident Kayla Wohldmann said.

KOMU 8 news received several calls about unplowed streets in the days after the storm. Many people wondered why their streets were left untouched. 

The City of Columbia has 26 snow plows for about 500 miles of road. In other Missouri towns there are more plows per mile. Springfield has 32 plows for about 600 miles of road and Jefferson City has 24 plows for roughly 250 miles of road. Columbia Public Works spokesman Steven Sapp said budgeting for snow removal is a balancing act. 

"It all comes down to balance, really. The streets, the transit and the airport are funded basically from a one percent sales tax so every time we take money from the other two," Sapp said.

For this year's snowstorms, public works rented equipment from other city departments and hired a private contractor; solutions that cost less in the short run, but not in the long run. According to Roger Schwartz, director of Jefferson City Public Works, snow plows can cost anywhere from $110,000 to $160,000. But Sapp said budgeting for snow is tricky because of Missouri's finicky weather. 

"One year we may have 20 inches of snow all at once, and then we may go two or three years with just a couple of inches or maybe none," Sapp said. 

However, Sapp said more snow plows might not solve the problems residents faced this year. He said there are other obstacles that make snow clean-up in Columbia difficult. According to Sapp Columbia has 1,100 dead end streets making it hard for plows to get around quickly. Cars parked on the street and abandoned on roads also made plowing especially difficult this year.

Sapp said public works plans to look at purchasing more snow plows when working on the 2014 budget.