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With first storms out of way, city ready for more winter weather

With the winter season now officially underway, the Excelsior Springs Public Works Department is ready to continue with the snow removal season.

“In the past several months, public works has received approximately 200 tons of salt to replenish the supply, totaling over 300 tons to bring the storage barn back to full capacity,” explained Public Works Director Chad Birdsong. “Also, maintenance personnel have been hauling in ice control sand, totaling 500 tons, which will be mixed with the salt at a three-to-one ratio.  This mixture is then applied by spreaders to over 395 lane miles of hills and intersections throughout Excelsior Springs. This material is replenished in the spring, summer and fall, and is stored in bunkers and our salt barn. So far, we have never had a winter where we used up all of our reserves, although a few winters have come close.”

Birdsong explained how public works tackles a winter weather event.

“When a snow event starts in Excelsior Springs, public works crews split into five- to nine-man crews to cover a 12-hour day shift, and also a 12-hour night shift. At nighttime, the police department may call out crews to begin treating the roads if they aren’t already out working. Crews follow this schedule until the roads are cleared. Normally this takes anywhere from one to three days of a 24-hour shift operation depending on the depth of snow.”

A fleet of seven trucks, tractors, and loaders start the shifts by plowing what the public works department calls their “start-up” routes first. These include major city thoroughfares throughout town and will also encompass some of the major city routes through subdivisions. These startup routes are followed until the flakes stop falling.  The point in this is to try and keep all the major routes open for all residents within two to three blocks of each house. The Missouri Department of Transportation is responsible for clearing all state routes in town including U.S. 69, Jesse James Road (a business spur off U.S. 69), Missouri 10 and Missouri 92, as well as all lettered routes—N, Y and H highways.

“After the snow stops, crews switch off the start up routes and follow five other routes which will eventually cover every single mile of the total 395 lane miles,” Birdsong continued. “As they are plowing, trucks with sanders are also applying the salt and sand mixture to the hills and intersections throughout town.  The city doesn’t apply this mixture to every residential street.  We just don’t have the funds necessary to do this.”

As the trucks follow each of the routes, they are designed to clear the streets as equitably as possible.  Crews don’t just go to one neighborhood and clear it all out and then move on to the next and repeat the process. Instead, the routes go from one neighborhood to the next to reduce the number of turn arounds or stopping and backing up of vehicles.  This method lets all the trucks continue to move forward in a safe manner – clearing the roads in all areas of the town at the same time.

As with any work though, some problems always come up. If a plow driver misses a turn, which they sometimes do, that results in a missed street. This action will then result in a phone call to public works, and the dispatcher will then call the route supervisor to get the missed street taken care of, Birdsong said.

By Standard Staff •

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