With Kansas City threatened by a second whiteout snowstorm in less than a week, Mayor Sly James today urged citizens to stay off the roads Tuesday and let snow removal crews do their jobs.
“This one has the potential to be quite serious and certainly we know that it’s going to dump someplace in the neighborhood of 10 or more inches on Kansas City,” James said at a press conference.
“We absolutely would appreciate it if you could stay off the roads, stay home tomorrow if you possibly can,” he said.
He urged people to park in driveways and off the streets if possible. If that’s not possible, residents should park on the west side of the street for streets that run north/south, and on the north side of streets that run east/west.
To make sure that plows and emergency vehicles have room to maneuver, James warned that the city already had begun towing cars at 9 a.m. that posed a public safety hazard, or would impede emergency vehicles getting where they need to go. Those cars will be taken to the city’s tow lot, with a $200 retrieval cost.
City Manager Troy Schulte did not know how many cars had been towed this morning but said that earlier the city had identified close to 200 locations and about 250 cars that might pose a hazard and had urged those vehicle owners to get them off the streets. That list of locations is available at www.kcmo.org.
The mayor has called an emergency declaration until right before midnight Wednesday into Thursday. That allows the city to waive some labor rules and keep crews on, add more personnel to battle the storm and waive routine budget and administrative requirements to respond to the storm.
The city is completing the mop-up from Thursday’s mammoth snow storm and crews are expected to begin plowing new snow from major arterials late this evening. The city has about 175 large dump trucks used to plow major streets, and those crews will plow non-stop in 12-hour shifts.
It has 65 smaller pickups that will start on the residential streets at 6 a.m. and go for 12 hours, and then can resume the next day if needed.
Greg Bolon, who manages Kansas City’s snow removal efforts, urged parents to keep their children out of the streets when playing in the snow. He said the city had a report of one plow truck trying to clear a cul-de-sac in the Northland over the weekend, when seven or eight children emerged from a snow fort that had been built in the middle of the cul-de-sac.
The city is still tallying the cost of last week’s storm, in terms of equipment, materials, salt and labor. At $175,000 per inch of snow, Schulte said it could be close to $2 million. This next storm could be in the same ballpark. The city has budgeted $2.7 million for snow removal this year but can tap its contingency or other funding sources if necessary.
Other highlights from today’s press conference:
• Trash pickup will be suspended on Tuesday and delayed a day for the rest of the week. Residents who did not receive regular trash pickup last week can put out four bags of trash this week without tags.
• City Hall will be closed to visitors on Tuesday.
• The city will attempt to operate its 311 call center from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but that will be partly contingent on those workers’ ability to get to work.
• City community centers will be open to serve as shelters.
• The bus service hopes to operate regular service Tuesday but will evaluate that as conditions warrant.