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Friday, Apr. 18, 2014

Let it snow

Thursday, December 8, 2005

(Photo)
Ava Alcorn, 16 months, enjoys the snow as she is walked by her mother, Erin Alcorn.
SIKESTON -- Local and state highway crews were primed and ready to go for the season's first snow.

Steve Lee, Sikeston's street superintendent, said he was expecting two to three inches of snow and the possibility of ice, "more of a nuisance than what you expect a winter storm to be," based on several weather forecasting resources.

As of press time today, the Mississippi County and New Madrid sheriff's departments reported several car accidents due to the winter weather and Scott County Sheriff's Department dispatchers were too busy to speak with reporters.

Forecasters predicted a light freezing drizzle or light snow is likely to continue through the afternoon with highs in the lower 30s and an 80-

percent chance for precipitation.

(Photo)
Randy Gaines and Richard Bramlett, both employees of the Sikeston Public Works, replace a snow plow blade.
"We take all storms seriously - you never really know what to expect, so we're always prepared for the worst-case scenario," Lee said. "We have four trucks equipped with stainless steel salt spreaders and plows." The city uses just salt, Lee said - no cinders or sand.

Additionally, the city's front end loader and backhoes are ready to clear snow drifts if needed. "We also have a Bobcat with a brush for downtown sidewalks if need be," Lee said.

Street department crews were also ready for this morning's snow.

"We have 12 men available to drive, so we're very capable of working a round-the-clock operation if we need to," Lee said. "They're all made aware on the day before. That comes with their job duty - we may spend two or three days at a time, whatever it takes, to clear the streets as quickly as possible."

The Missouri Department of Transportation was prepared for the season's first snowfall as well, according to Stan Johnson, the local area engineer for MoDOT.

"We fill up our salt bins prior to Nov. 1 so our salt storage areas are full," Johnson said. Some areas, such as bridges, were pretreated with brine in anticipation of today's storm.

Road crews clear and treat roads with the highest traffic volumes first during inclement winter weather to help the greatest number of motorists.

For MoDOT, this means continuously plowing and treating interstate highways and other major routes throughout the storm.

The most heavily-traveled sections of other routes are the next priority for MoDOT. They are plowed until open for traffic, but are not continuously treated with salt although these routes are treated where snow and ice conditions make driving more difficult such as steep hills, sharp curves, intersections, bridges and railroad crossings.

"We ask people to drive carefully," Johnson said. "If you don't have to be out, stay home."

Johnson said snow plow drivers can not always see other traffic. "Be careful around snow plows - give them plenty of room," he said.

MoDOT is using several new snow-removal tools including 200 new, wider snow plows.

"There's a few of them around here," Johnson said. "They're about 2-foot wider than some of the plows we used to have. The idea is you can plow an entire 12-foot lane in one pass."

Wider plows save time, fuel and other resources and enables motorists to be able to drive on plowed roads sooner after a snowstorm, according to MoDOT officials.

"We call this one-pass clearing, which not only reduces the amount of time to plow the routes but reduces the chances of weather-related crashes as well," said Jim Carney, state maintenance engineer for MoDOT in Jefferson City, in a recent news release. "We get to provide better service without adding additional staff."

MoDOT plans to buy more of the wider plows as equipment is replaced. Johnson suggested they may keep some of the smaller plows to use on lettered routes, many of which are narrower.

MoDOT's snow removal has also been made more efficient with a new salt-

application device and comprehensive training on applying salt to roadways. The device is a computer in the snowplow trucks that controls the salt application, making the driver's job easier and safer in addition to controlling costs.

In an average year, MoDOT uses 246,000 tons of salt. Estimated cost savings on salt by using this technology may be as high as $2 million a year.

For information on road conditions across the state, safe traveling tips and a diagram on driveway clearing techniques, visit www.modot.org or call 888-

ASK-MODOT.