Snowpacked streets won’t be totally clear until temperatures rise

02/06/2014 8:01 PM

02/06/2014 8:01 PM

Blame the cold temperatures for snowpacked streets.

Sure, area highways for the most part were clear by Thursday morning’s rush hour — although numerous crashes happened when drivers hit icy spots.

But when commuters got to Kansas City’s streets, that was a different story.

“A clear surface comes when you can salt,” said Sean Demory, a spokesman for the Kansas City Public Works Department. “We haven’t had that opportunity, really, because it has been very cold.”

The high Thursday was 10 degrees. Friday’s high is expected to be 17.

Salt becomes effective when temperatures reach the teens, Demory said, and the city hopes to start treating the streets with salt on Friday as well as over the weekend.

“We are doing what we can,” Demory said. “Nature will have to clock in sometime soon.”

Meanwhile, the city has focused on making the streets drivable.

“People are getting where they need to go,” Demory said.

Highways and some thoroughfares are clear because more cars, traveling at higher speeds, help break up the snowpack.

“Clearing roads is a cooperative effort between the driver, the folks who are actually doing the plowing and the weather,” Demory said.

Same story in Lee’s Summit.

“As cold as we’ve been, it’s next to impossible to get down to bare pavement,” said Bob Hartnett, deputy director for public works.

High traffic volume provides a much better chance to see concrete, he said. But the city hit its goal of having all streets plowed curb to curb within 40 hours of snow falling.

“We hit it this afternoon with about three hours to spare,” Hartnett said.

Overland Park also finished up Thursday.

“Curb to curb, that’s not one pass,” said city spokesman Sean Reilly.

Crews then began applying salt and sand in anticipation of higher temperatures.

Cameras throughout the city show bare pavement for arterial streets because of high traffic, but some warmth would have speeded up the job.

“When temperatures get up to 25 or so, that’s when you’d see water running down the street,” Reilly said.

In Kansas City, crews had completed a full sweep of the arterial streets and were headed back to clear more of the snow.

“We are widening lanes and clearing snow from the turn lanes, which is where it tends to collect,” Demory said.

On Thursday afternoon, 175 vehicles were working on Kansas City’s arterial streets and 65 vehicles were responding to calls to the 311 Call Center about missed or slick streets.

“We have done at least one pass through the vast majority of streets in the city, including cul-de-sacs and dead ends,” Demory said.

Kansas City appears to be in good shape when it comes to salt supplies. The city received a shipment shortly before the storm, so it had 27,000 tons of salt on hand before the snow fell.

The city started the season with 24,000 tons.

On Thursday afternoon, Tyrell Jones, who lives in downtown Kansas City, was going to dig out his 1995 red Trans Am, which had been buried by plows after he got stuck and had to abandon it Tuesday.

Jones said he felt that the city could do better when it comes to clearing the streets.

“I also feel that if they trap us, they should help untrap us,” Jone said.

Demory asked for the public’s patience. Every storm is different, he said, and this one had a lot of drifting snow.

“We will continue to do the job until the roads are clear.”

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