COLUMBIA — Mother Nature might take care of snow-covered roads in Columbia neighborhoods before the city gets to it.
The city was hit with a snowstorm last week, but snow-covered roads are still an issue for many residents. Temperatures are expected to be in the 40s on Thursday and could melt the snow before city crews get a chance to clear it.
Steven Sapp, public information specialist at the Columbia Public Works Department, said plows are still out clearing subdivisions and turn lanes during the day. The city stopped using overtime workers on Feb. 9.
The goal for the plows is to make roads "passable," which means that at least one travel lane is accessible by a front-wheel drive vehicle at speeds and conditions below the posted speed limit, according to the city's snow removal website. For a street to be considered passable, a snowplow generally has to make a minimum of two trips, Sapp said.
Some residents beg to differ on the city's definition of passable. James Simelus, who lives just off Derby Ridge Road in north Columbia, said he still hadn't seen a plow on his street. Simelus' street was covered in snow, along with many other side streets off his subdivision's main road, which had been plowed.
He said he considers the street to be passable now, but only because so many cars have already driven on it.
"For the first few days it was really tough getting out," Simelus said.
The street outside of Rhiannon Trask's house in The Vineyards subdivision, off East Broadway, was only plowed once and was still covered in 3 to 4 inches of snow and ice on the morning of Feb. 6. In the past, plows have done a better job with Trask's street, she said. This time, the street remained difficult a week after the initial snowfall.
Trask contacted the city Monday evening to get another plow down her street.
"There's an expectation that streets should be better at this point," Trask said. "People shouldn't be housebound a week after snowfall."
The city responded to Trask's email later that evening, much to her surprise, and had a plow on her street Tuesday morning.
Trask said her street was passable Tuesday afternoon, primarily as the result of sunshine, warmer temperatures, and a second trip from a plow.
"I think my definition of passable is different than the city's," Trask said. "I think we need to change the definition of passable."
The Public Works Department had been responding to residents' concerns via its Facebook page, Twitter account and email. The city's snow removal progress map was last updated Feb. 6 and said that roads are passable.
Supervising editor is Elise Schmelzer.