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Columbia and Jefferson City winter weather preparation in progress

With the first snow of the season possible this weekend, the cities of Columbia and Jefferson City are preparing for winter-like weather conditions and snow removal.

Each year, the salt dome in Columbia on Big Bear Boulevard stores about 5,000 tons of salt that is put down on the streets of Columbia throughout the winter.

Right now, Columbia Public Works says it’s holding about 4,200 tons, but they will be getting several shipments to fill it up over the next couple of weeks.

Steven Sapp with Columbia Public Works says they have been preparing for winter for several months.

Steven Sapp, Columbia Public Works: “Well our preparation really goes back to those months of July and August when nobody is thinking about snow except for us. And we’re looking at weather our snow routes are still good and if we need to add additional snow routes and priority routes. And that’s one of the things that we did actually do this year, in October the council received a report we added about 10 miles of priority snow routes.”

If it snows more than two inches in Columbia, a city ordinance says any vehicle parked on designated snow routes must be moved off the street or it will be towed. And Sapp says this year, the fine for parking on those snow routes is increasing from $15 to $100.

You can find all of the priority snow routes here.

Sapp also says residential streets will only be plowed if it snows more than four inches and the priority streets have already been cleared.

But in Jefferson City, all streets will be plowed after a snow storm.

Britt Smith, Jefferson City Public Works: “We have a bare-pavement policy throughout our city. Residential or arterial. That’s a policy that we’ve had for some time. The city council gives us the resources to make that happen, and one of the reasons is because we are so hilly.”

Jefferson City has 23 snow plows used from removal.

And in Columbia, the Public Works Street Division has about 25 plows. But if more are needed, that number can be nearly doubled by using vehicles from other city departments like water and light.

Sapp says the City of Columbia spent nearly $600,000 on snow removal last year, and that cost changes every year depending on the amount of snowfall throughout the season.

Smith says this year’s snow removal budget for Jefferson City, also called the chemical budget, is $225,000. And they are currently storing about 3,600 tons of salt.

Authorities say think ahead before driving in winter conditions.

Sapp: “We encourage people to make sure that their cars are in good condition this winter, tires are good, that they have emergency kits in their vehicle, keep a full tank of gas, just be prepared.”

Columbia Public Schools says this is the first school year it will be implementing late starts when it snows, if needed. That would mean every school would start 2.5 hours later than the usual start time and give Public Works a couple extra hours to clear the roads and make driving conditions safer for parents and students. CPS says it will notify parents and staff before 6 a.m. if there is a late start or snow day.

You can find Columbia and Jefferson City road conditions here.

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