Snow removal policy differs in Columbia, Jefferson City

Monday, February 7, 2011 | 11:44 a.m. CST; updated 7:36 p.m. CST, Monday, February 7, 2011

COLUMBIA — With more than 17 inches of snow blanketing Columbia and Jefferson City streets, each city has implemented its own ways to deal with the snowfall.

In 1982, Jefferson City created a policy that required residents to remove their cars from certain streets two hours after a snow emergency was declared, said Britt Smith, division director for the streets division.

“We publicized the snow emergency through local media and had police officers go door-to-door alerting residents whose cars were parked on the snow emergency streets that they would need to move their car,” Smith said.

These streets have "No Parking: Snow Emergency Street" signs posted year-round notifying residents that parking is prohibited during snow emergencies. “From a homeowner's standpoint, it can be frustrating to have your car covered in snow, even if there is a clear street, so we encourage, but do not require, residents to move their cars throughout the city, not just on snow emergency streets,” Smith said.

In Columbia, however, there aren't any similar parking zones on priority streets specifically for snow emergencies. “We encourage residents not to park on city streets, but we don’t want to over-prepare for an event that occurs very rarely,” said Tony St. Romaine, assistant city manager.

Another difference between the cities is the snow removal policy.

Columbia has 500 miles of road to plow and 18 plow trucks, said Jill Stedem, public information specialist for Columbia Public Works. Jefferson City, however, has half as many miles to plow and six more trucks, Smith said.

Jefferson City streets have been cleared to at least one lane since Wednesday, Smith said. And 95 percent of Columbia streets were cleared to at least one lane Friday, St. Romaine said at a press conference Friday.

Jefferson City begins clearing roads as soon as they become slick, regardless of the amount of snow. “Our snow removal policy is (to start) when the snow starts," Smith said. "We continue until there is bare pavement."

After a 16-inch snowstorm in 2006, Columbia made changes to its snow policy. For a snowfall of more than 4 inches, city crews begin clearing first-priority, second-priority and critical streets followed by the 325 miles of residential streets, Stedem said. Any snowfall less than 4 inches will be dealt with during normal business hours, and overtime will not be paid, she said.

Despite different approaches to snow removal, the residents' safety is the top priority.

“This is a time-consuming process. It is understandable that people get frustrated, but we do everything we can to keep our streets safe,” Stedem said. 

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Jeremy Calton February 7, 2011 | 6:08 p.m.

18 plows?
I know that's what they tell reporters, but check out their website:

"What equipment does the city use for clearing snow?
The Street Division has 20 large trucks with plows and spreaders, six pickup trucks with plows and spreaders, four graders, five backhoes, and two front end loaders which are used for clearing snow."

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