Columbia Public Works staffing is still down 20% from where it needs to be.
“That's by no means a bar from providing good service to the community,” Columbia Public Works spokesman John Ogan said. “Some other city divisions, as I've spoken about, are 30% down, so we're doing pretty well... [crews] come to work on a snow day committed to making the community safe and they know the role that they play."
The number of plow crew members this year is the same as last winter, he added. Those crews did a “dry run” in Tuesday’s 50-degree weather to prepare for any upcoming snow. A staff of 40 drove the roads they’ll be clearing when snow hits.
Among them is Cade Bormet, a CDL operator who’s been with the Columbia Public Works Street Division for the past two years.
“We're understaffed, as a lot of the country is seeing, and we're expected to do more with less,” Bormet said. “We're doing our best to get out there and help the community in every way we can and we're doing our best to uphold that standard.”
When snowy weather hits, he said drivers are often working 12-hour days. Crews from other departments will occasionally help out.
When driving in that type of weather, the department asks that drivers slow down and give lots of room between themselves and other vehicles on the road.
“Just use regular prudent winter weather driving techniques,” Ogan said. “If you encounter a plow on the road, give it a little bit of room, a safe distance… They typically drive at 25 miles an hour, so don't try to pass it, just drive behind it and maybe enjoy the more cleared road that it's providing.”
The City of Columbia is also offering alerts through phone or email when the no-parking rule goes into effect when two inches of snow falls. Those interested can sign up for those notifications at Alerts.CoMo.gov
"Just be cautious is the main thing,” Bormet added. “We’re going to try and help you. If you try and help us and reciprocate that, it would be greatly appreciated."