Road Crews Prepare for Winter

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COLUMBIA - It's hard to believe that anytime, Mid-Missouri could see its first heavy snow. With or without the snow, Columbia and MoDot have been preparing for this year's first flakes for months.

Each year Columbia puts aside more than $220,000 for snow removal. But this past spring, the city saw much more snow than usual for Mid-Missouri.

"We don't prepare for that large of snow. We usually get about fifteen inches of snow a year and last year we had well over thirty, so it wouldn't make sense to prepare for that kind of snow every year," said Columbia Street Manager, Scott Bitterman.

After the big snowstorm in February, the city doubled its budget, spending nearly $450,000. Bitterman said the city used reserve funds to pay for the heavy snow removal. But the city isn't the only group plowing the streets. MoDot Maintenance Superintendent Mike Belt says clearing the streets of Mid-Missouri is a team effort.

"If we're doing our job well, really the public should never know whether they're on a MoDot or city or county road or anything like that," Belt said.

MoDot spends about 40 million dollars a year in snow removal for Missouri.

"In our central district, which is 18 counties in central Missouri, it cost us generally about 1.5 million dollars to replenish our salts that we used last year," Belt said. "So we budget about a million and a half just to get that salt and our liquid products back in. We also spend money on equipment and repair parts and our salaries."

Belt said MoDot starts getting its equipment ready in early fall to have it ready to go by November 1st. Back in September, MoDot began accepting applications for new workers to help plow the streets.

"Generally I like to keep around 70 to 75 people available at any given time to operate the equipment up here," said Belt.

Bitterman said Columbia has around 25 plows to maintain the city streets and the city doesn't hire additional staffing to help with plowing.

This year, the city has a new approach for tackling the snowy streets.

"All of our priority routes this year will be no parking zones and vehicles that do get stranded on the roadways can be immediately towed," Bitterman said. "If we could keep the cars off the priority routes and let us get those cleared, we can respond much quicker."

To view a map of Columibia's plowing priority routes, click here.