MoDOT braces for upcoming snowstorm with salt

Monday, January 31, 2011 | 6:22 p.m. CST; updated 8:47 p.m. CST, Monday, January 31, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Department of Transportation is bracing for what it calls a historic snowstorm amid concerns the extreme weather will shut down the state.

The National Weather Service projected the storm will bring 17 to 21 inches of snow to Missouri by nightfall Tuesday. MoDOT is urging people to limit travel as much as possible during the next few days.

"If you don't need to be out there, then stay home," said Jorma Duran, a spokesman for the department.

Duran said the expected ice accumulation is one of the department's biggest concerns. The National Weather Service projects that around a quarter-inch of ice will accumulate by early Tuesday morning. Duran said crews are "laying down salt on curves and intersections as we speak."

Across the state, the department's 10 districts are assessing their salt supplies and preparing their strategies for the projected storm.

Michael Teel, maintenance supervisor for the department's central district, said the distirict has 50 percent of its salt supply remaining, which equates to about 15,000 tons. With this amount, Teel said he was not worried about running out.

Wess Murray, maintenance superintendent for the Kansas City-area district, said that the district has about 65 percent of its salt remaining but that it will refrain from using the salt during the periods of heavy snowfall tomorrow.

The St. Louis district reported that 50 percent of its salt was remaining, but Community Relations Director Marie Elliott said the district will finish treating the roads with salt shortly. Elliot said crews have been salting the roads since Sunday and having been using a mixture of salt and sand in order to conserve the supply.

In Springfield, Communication Relations Specialist Angela Eden said that district has about 60 percent of its supply left. According to Eden, it won't start salting until Tuesday, when temperatures are expected to drop below 32 degrees.

Teel said the primary focus for the Columbia area will be Interstate 70, followed by highways U.S. 63 and U.S. 54. Once those areas are cleared, the department's crews will move into Columbia and begin to clear the major state roads around MU, including Stadium Boulevard and College Avenue.

Right now, the department's crews are working on treating "slick spots" throughout the area, Teel said. He said he has also contacted some contracting companies in an attempt to line up additional labor should it be needed to plow the roads tomorrow. Teel said the storm is "mainly a plow event."

"The public should feel good about how we are preparing, but they really need to stay home," Duran said.

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