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Columbia Missourian

Snow still poses a challenge for some Columbia residents

January 27, 2011 | 7:45 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA —  A high temperature in the mid 40s forecast for Friday will go a long way toward melting piles of snow and ice around town. That will be welcome by residents still recovering from last week's big snow.

Although mid-Missouri’s latest winter storm was a week ago, dropping 8-9 inches, Abigail Kesl’s street in central Columbia remained caked with a slick mixture of ice and snow on Tuesday afternoon.

Snow drifts lined the street’s edges, and potholes were filled with slush. Asphalt was visible in relatively few places.

However, Kesl said she is not surprised by the conditions in her neighborhood. In the year and a half Kesl, a Columbia College student, has lived on Radcliffe Drive, she has never seen a city snow plow in the area.

“The closest road that they plow is Stadium,” she said.

Because Stadium Boulevard is nearly half a mile away, this tends to be problematic, Kesl said.

“It’s quite annoying because I wake up in the morning after everything has melted and refrozen, and my car is just slipping and sliding,” she said. “I would like to not kill myself trying to get to school.”

Jill Stedem, public information specialist for the Columbia Public Works Department, said the city is responsible for plowing and maintaining about 500 miles of road. This includes all roads within city limits with the exception of state-maintained streets. Certain streets have higher priority, such as roads with high traffic or dangerous hills and curves.

Stedem said all roads the city is responsible for were plowed by 2 p.m. Sunday, but some residential areas might still have snow on the streets.

“Getting down to dry pavement is not what we (the city) try to achieve, ... (because) we just don't have the staff, budget or resources,” she said.

Stedem added clearing streets in residential areas isn’t easy because plows have to maneuver around parked cars. She said most residential streets are between 28 and 32 feet wide, while plows working to clear the streets are 8 feet wide, so they must be driven the length of the street four times after a heavy snow.

“It has been the hardest part of this last snowstorm,” Stedem said of the large amount of snow. “It just takes a lot more time when you’re going curb to curb on 500 miles (of road) at 20 mph.”

Despite the city’s plowing efforts, some Columbia residents such as Lonnie Anderson were forced to dig their cars out of the snow.

Anderson said the road in front of his Hirth Avenue house between Donnelly Avenue and Sexton Road was covered in snow for days. Although the snow started to melt as cars drove up and down the street, slush still covered one side of it on Tuesday.

Anderson said he helped shovel out four neighbors after the snowstorm.

Because Hirth Avenue is hilly, cars had trouble speeding up to propel uphill, Anderson said.

On Saturday, Anderson's neighbor got stuck multiple times driving down Hirth Avenue. Her car went into the grass, and when someone tried to push it out, it slipped to the other side of the street. When he heard she was having trouble, Anderson came outside to dig her car out and give her some tips on dealing with the snow.

“You could get out, but it wasn’t pretty,” he said. “You had to fight that street trying to get up there.”

Radcliffe Drive resident Joseph Beaudoin had similar problems. Because of conditions on his street, he was unable to drive his two-wheel drive Volkswagen Jetta to his classes at MU and Columbia College.

“The city not plowing is really ineffective for people who don’t have four-wheel drive and can’t get to work or school,” Beaudoin said. “It was kind of a bummer for me because there were other people who did get to school, and I missed assignments because of it.”

Some residents were not inconvenienced by the snowstorm.

“It wasn’t a whole lot different,” said James Remus of Devine Court in western Columbia as he described going about his daily activities after the storm.

“We love it,” he said of himself and his family.

Connie Leipard — a resident of South High Point Lane in southern Columbia — was satisfied with the plowing on her street. She sympathizes with the city despite imperfections in its plowing process.

“I wouldn’t complain at all,” Leipard said. “It’s just been a rough winter; I think for the conditions, they did a great job. It was just a lot of yuck.”

Christi Hopper, who lives at Lansing Avenue and Arbor Drive in eastern Columbia, said she accepts she must put in an effort along with the city to keep the area around her home free of snow. She said when city plows drive down her street, snow tends to be pushed to the sides and block her driveway; she's had to shovel multiple times to keep it clear.

“I just come out and do a little bit every day,” she said.

Missourian reporters Natalie Devlin, Alahandra Jones, Anne Koncki, Katie Moritz, Catherine Newhouse and Ann Elise Taylor contributed to this article.