SIKESTON - While some Illinois municipalities have reported already spending their winter snow-removal budgets on the late fall snows and ice storms, area road crews in Missouri remain supplied and ready.
"We've got our salt inventory and all our equipment is up and ready to roll when needed," said Tom Bridger, Sikeston public works director. "I think we're fine."
Bridger said Sikeston's street department is able make adjustments as needed to keep our city's streets clear. "What matters to us in the street department is the bottom line, so if we go over on the salt we cut back on something else," he said. "We budget labor cost in the regular budget itself."
Bridger said salt is included in the budget under a line item for chemicals that covers both salt and mosquito-killing chemicals.
"This year so far we've spent, ballpark numbers, a little over $10,000," Bridger said. "Last year we were lucky - we had to use very little of our salt. We had a good inventory of salt when the storm hit. All we had to do was replenish what we used."
Knowing how much salt to buy and stock up on can be tricky, Bridger said. "It is so difficult to predict - you never know what mother nature is going to do to you."
Bridger said, for example, that it takes more salt to clear ice than snow. "It makes it a little tougher situation, so it varies, and the colder it is the more salt you will sometimes have to end up using."
Sikeston is using just road salt after having tried a salt-sand mixture in the past to add traction. "We didn't get a very good melt," Bridger said. "And it wound up making a bigger mess - clean up was terrible with it."
Bridger said the street department keeps two of its four snowplow and spreader dump trucks equipped for snow removal this time of the year. "And the others can be loaded very quickly now," he added.
The street department is advised by the weather service in Paducah and is able to get more precise times and predictions of amounts than the more general reports relayed by the media.
"We monitor the weather very closely," said Bridger. "We get ready for it and have everything waiting for the storm when it hits and usually have a pretty good idea of when it's going to hit."
Other road and bridge departments reported they have plenty of resources ready as well.
"We're OK on our budget for the snow removal," said Harlan Duncan, supervisor of the Scott County road and bridge department. "We're in no trouble on it."
Duncan said they used some of their resources during the last ice storm but are restocked and have plenty for the coming winter. "We keep some stockpiled for later dates if it gets bad," said Duncan.
Joe Garner, head of the East Prairie street department, said his department does not budget for or use any road salt.
"We really depend on the New Madrid Power Plant - we get slag from down there," said Garner. "We use it so the vehicles can grip - we put it on intersections."
He added, "We also depend on the state department taking care of Highway 80 through town."