COLUMBIA — The Public Works crews are busy clearing roads across the city, but they're unlikely to get to residential streets anytime soon.
Mary Ellen Lea, acting director for the Columbia Public Works Department, said just before 1 p.m. that she can’t tell how long it will be before the city’s snow and ice removal crews get to the residential areas.
“We’re still working on the roads designated first, second and critical priorities,” Lea said. "The radar looks like we’re getting more rain and more sleet on the way. If that happens, we may have to redo the roads we’ve already been working on.”
Critical roads are those with hills, blind curves, or other hazardous features.
Lea said all 17 of the largest trucks — the tandems and dump trucks — are working. Five of the small pickup plows are on the streets, the two fitted with snowplows are out of commission because of a blown transmission and a thrown rod.
Major repairs like those could take several weeks, so the mechanical department is looking at trucks from the sewer and garbage fleets that would be strong enough to push the plow blades. The trucks would need to be at least a three-quarter-ton, and have 4-wheel-drive. All 12 mechanics are working rotating 12 hour shifts, but they have responsibilities to keep the other public works fleets going, too.
One of the two new snow-plows the city put out bids for in late July is sitting at the dealer’s about 25 miles away in California, Mo., said John Glascock, director of the Public Works Department. Glascock said it will probably be two more weeks before the city can put them to work because the Finance Department must first make sure that the trucks match the bid specifications.
To check out the city’s snow and ice priority removal map go to: gocolumbiamo.com/PublicWorks/Streets/Snow_Routes/index.php
Lea said there has not been a decision to cancel trash pickup or any other public works services Monday.
In addition to the city's crew, there were also a few private plowing companies out Sunday scraping roads and driveways for Columbia businesses and residents.
Richard Jones, owner of Clean Cut Services, said he had both his trucks out clearing ice on Sunday. Unfortunately, though, the company can't take anymore contracts this winter. Jones said by the end of October his company had already booked as many contracts as it could handle.
The Public Works Department asks residents who are plowing snow to push it to the right side of their driveways (as you are facing the street). This will help to avoid having the driveway plowed back shut with snow when the snow plows come down the street.
Boone Hospital Center ambulances aren't having any trouble getting around so far Sunday, said Shelly Rowling, marketing spokeswoman for the hospital. She also said the emergency room hasn't seen an increase in visits.
"People must be heeding the warnings and staying in," Rowling said.
As of 6:15 p.m., Columbia Regional Airport Safety Officer Mark Albers was preparing to go out and measure the one runway open for “slickness values” that he would radio to pilots considering landing there. The runway is measured at each end and in the middle, but Albers said: “The decision whether or not to land is up to each individual pilot.” The latest commercial flight scheduled for Sunday night is the 11:15 p.m. flight from Kansas City.
Columbia Public Transportation bus routes are on regular schedule, not an emergency weather schedule, for Sunday.
Reporters Audrey Spalding and Katie Krawczak contributed to this story.