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Columbia adds third-priority snow routes

Plow truck driver
ABC 17 News
Mike Wheeler drives a city plow truck.


City of Columbia public works crews did a dry run on snow routes Wednesday to prepare for winter weather.

Mike Wheeler operates the loader which fills truck with salt from the salt dome. He also drove snow plows for the city for years. He said the dry run is a way for crew members to get comfortable in their routes.

"All new employees get to figure out and learn their routes, and look over their areas, and look over their trucks, and get the gist of what we do in a snow event," he said.

"The streets change. We get more and more every year. New objects to hit in the roads, new plows to test out," he said.

Wheeler said the city rotates trucks and plows as needed to keep things working properly.

"They're on a mileage and a year cycle, so once they get either so many years or so many miles they get traded off and we get new ones," Wheeler said.

He said at Wednesday's dry run crews learned they will have a third-priority route.

Columbia tackles street clearing with a priority route system, with major roads designated first-priority and other large roads second-priority. Third-priority roads will be neighborhood streets.

Wheeler said this means there will always be accessible routes to first- and second-priority streets now.

Third-priority routes will not be marked with signs asking people to move their vehicles if the city gets more than 2 inches of snow. Drivers will still need to move vehicles when 2 or more inches of snow accumulates on first- and second-priority routes.

The added routes will use more equipment and manpower.

"It's going to take that much more salt out of our dome. It's going to take that many more manpower hours to clear another thousand streets essentially," Wheeler said.

He said despite all of this, it will still be worth it the extra work.

"We seriously pride ourselves on if one person gives us a phone call or mails a letter thanking us. That makes up for the whole year worth of negativity from people who didn't like it," he said.

Wheeler said if drivers do not move their vehicles from first- and second-priority routes, it can be hazardous to plow drivers and other drivers.

"We can't get around you. We can, but then if another vehicle is coming down the road we can't," he said. "And then if you go around a parked car, you can't plow that whole section so you can never get it totally cleared. And then that section melts and runs back across the road."

Article Topic Follows: Columbia
city of columbia
frozen precipitation
snow clearing
winter weather

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Sydney Olsen

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


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