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Crews prepare for winter weather and slick roadways amid COVID-19

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Columbia Public Works and Boone County Road and Bridge have been preparing for winter weather and the work that comes along with it.

Both departments have ordered supplies and trained employees to know their routes.

Richard Stone, engineering and operations manager for Columbia Public Works said the department has already filled the salt dome.

"We do have a full salt dome, so we got 5,000 tons of salt in our salt dome," he said.

The department typically does a dry run each year to practice snow routes, but because of COVID-19, it was canceled.

Stone said crews are working individually with new crew members to teach them routes and minimize contact.

The department is also taking other Coronavirus precautions. Crews will sanitize the trucks between each route.

The way the team communicates at the beginning of each shift will also change. The team typically meets in person to discuss a plan to tackle a weather event.

"We're actually going to modify that this year, have drivers report directly to vehicles. So they'll get their briefing over a two-way radio system," Stone said.

Stone said, because of the extra steps crews are taking to protect themselves from the virus, it could take crews a little longer to get to routes.

"It probably won't be that noticeable from the public's perspective, but you know, because of the extra sanitation and just the effort that's needed to make that occur it may be a little bit delayed," he said.

Greg Edington, director of Boone County Road and Bridge, said his crews have also prepared for the winter months.

He said in the beginning of October mechanic crews began going through all of the snow equipment.

Crews with the county did do a dry run.

"Typically everybody puts everything on, tests out the equipment, makes sure it works and they go take the new guys on training runs," Edington said.

The department has also stalked up on salt to treat the roads, with about 3,500 tons.

Edington said the department is also planning ahead in case the COVID-19 pandemic impacts staffing.

Crews typically work in two 12-hour shifts. If enough people have to quarantine or isolate that could change. Crews could begin working in longer shifts and resting in shifts.

"We build in some safety nets on personnel, so heaven forbid, we have half the staff out, which would really hurt us, we've got stuff in place for maybe one to five out," he said.

Both departments are taking precautions against the virus but cannot be sure what they will be facing until it happens.

Boone / Columbia / Coronavirus / Top Stories / Top Stories / Weather / Winter Weather

Sydney Olsen

Sydney Olsen reports in the evenings during the week and on the weekend.

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