Despite the early arrival of snow, city work crews said Tuesday they were ready to tackle the harsh conditions and clear the roads when the snowfall began.
“All our priority routes are currently near normal with the remainder of city streets passable at slow speeds by a front wheel drive vehicle,” Community Relations Specialist for Columbia Public Works Barry Dalton said in an email.
City plows focus on priority routes first when the city has experienced less than 4 inches of snow, Dalton said. First priority routes include major residential and through streets, including Broadway, Green Meadows Road and Vandiver Drive, according to the city’s website.
“It’s our goal that all streets be passable by a front-wheel-drive vehicle at slow speeds as soon as possible, but we must ensure priority routes are near normal first,” Dalton said.
Once priority routes are clear, the city will plow other streets as needed to make them passable.
The city’s website describes a passable condition as “although a street may still be snow packed, at least one travel lane is accessible for a front wheel drive vehicle at driving speeds well below the normal posted speed limits.”
This is Columbia’s first winter weather response that included third priority routes, which the city is testing this year, Dalton said. The plows were able to transition to some third priority routes Monday and “really hit them hard” Tuesday, Dalton said.
The city provides a map on its website indicating which streets are first, second and third snow route priorities.
Columbia Public Works tweeted Tuesday morning — after a record low for the date of 7 degrees, eclipsing the old mark of 9 in 1911 — that warming temperatures should help the clearing process. Temperatures will increase Wednesday, with a high near 43 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
To stay out of the cold, people can visit the Armory Sports & Recreation Center, which functions as a warming and cooling center and is open year-round. It has seen business as usual despite the snow, said Camren Cross, recreation supervisor of the Columbia Parks & Recreation Department.
The center’s hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Other warming center locations around Columbia are the Activity & Recreation Center, Columbia/Boone County Public Health & Human Services, Columbia Mall, Columbia Public Library and the The Salvation Army.
Although the city worked to clear roads, there were still multiple reported accidents Tuesday. Between 7 a.m. and noon, there were eight reported injury accidents and 10 reported noninjury accidents in Boone County, said Chuck Mastalski, day-shift 911 supervisor for the Boone County Sheriff’s Department.
“We still have a lot of slick areas,” Mastalski said.
He said 7 to 9 a.m. seems to be the peak time for these weather-related accidents because of rush hour.
There were two minor accidents Tuesday morning involving Columbia Public Schools buses, district spokesperson Michelle Baumstark said in an email. Schools had a two-hour delayed start.
There were no injuries, and both involved cars hitting buses. Students were able to make it to school with some delays in pickups, Baumstark said.
“The two-hour delay helped drivers be able to navigate roads in daylight and gave crews more time to have roads, lots and walks prepared,” Baumstark said. “Ice is always a challenge, but the sunlight (Tuesday) will help have us in a good position for a regular full day (Wednesday).”
The city has crews on standby, and staff will be monitoring conditions overnight, Dalton said.
Supervising editor is Kaleigh Feldkamp.