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Clearing Snow From Springfield Streets, A Costly Endeavor

E Walnut St
Credit: Missouri Department of Transportation

The National Weather Service in Springfield recorded between 6” and 8” of snow over the weekend, with more forecasted to fall tonight. KSMU’s Shane Franklin spoke with Springfield Public Works about how they prepare and respond to winter weather.

Keeping Springfield streets clean and safe for driving is not cheap, especially with winter weather like the Ozarks experienced over the weekend. Phil Broyles, director of Springfield Public Works, says the recent weather cost taxpayers around $200,000.

Broyles said if an ice storm had struck it could have cost taxpayers nearly ten times that much.

“Fortunately we dealt mainly with snow this time, with very little amounts of ice. In the first 18 hours we had spent about $100k,” said Broyles.

That money goes to operating and maintaining  the 30 dump trucks equipped with spreaders and a front plow, and a fleet of large pickup trucks used for plowing out public parking lots and turn lanes throughout the city.

Broyles says the city relies on a contract with a weather service that keeps an active eye on storms passing through the region. A couple hours before the storm rolls through, Public Works will start gassing up their trucks and load them with salt used to clean the streets.

Then, as soon as the accumulation starts, the trucks take off for their initial routes, or the “A” routes, which Broyles says are the main arterial streets throughout the city, such as National, Battlefield, parts of Sunshine, Campbell, and Division.

After these main streets are cleared, then the city’s fleet will focus on the “B” routes. Broyles describes these routes as the collector streets, like Jefferson and Kimbrough.

“The big thing that we try to concentrate on is that every resident is about a quarter mile of a plowed street. We don’t plow residential streets, unless its extreme conditions such as real heavy wet snow, and lots of it,” said Broyles.

Eight of the last 10 winters have been fairly easy on the city, says Broyles, and when money isn’t being spent on clearing the roads, it can be spent maintaining the roads later in the year.

He says it’s hard to say what this winter will bring, but if it’s a normal winter, keeping the roads clean could cost the city up to around $750,000.

“Mother Nature decides. Sometimes we win, and we get to put that money on extra resurfacing next year. Sometimes we lose, and we have to cut back,” said Broyles.

Mother Nature could be keeping the snow plows of Public Works busy tonight as well. The National Weather Service is calling for around two more inches of snowfall this evening.

For KSMU News, I’m Shane Franklin.