Monday, January 31, 2011

Road crews brace for massive winter storm

Road crews across Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois are on stand-by, in anticipation of the massive winter storm that is expected to cover much of the Midwest in snow and ice.

In Perryville, the city's three salt trucks and eight plows are fueled up and ready to treat the city's 52 miles of road.

Superintendent of public works Dave Clements says that his crew of 35 people can plow the city streets in 12 to 15 hours. Dealing with the ice is a treacherous task, but Clements also warns that snow is a difficult challenge for his road crews.

"Where do you put 10 or 12 inches of snow?" Clements rhetorically asks. "Plowing a street is one thing, but what do you do with all the snow you get in front of the plow when you get to the end of the street?"

Perryville's road crew will start working on the streets as soon as the storm starts.

In Farmington, street supervisor Terry Ferguson makes sure all of his fleet's trucks and chainsaws are in order. The city contracts local companies to help with tree limbs and other debris.

Ferguson says that his crew doesn't lay down salt or any materials prior to a storm. The city's primary snow routes can typically be cleared within a couple of hours.

Ferguson doesn't worry so much about the 4 inches of snow that's predicted to fall on Farmington and the surrounding region. He is more concerned about the anticipated inch of ice.

"Everybody talks about having snow plows. That doesn't touch the ice," Ferguson says.

"We have to back up a lot of our streets with any kind of a grade on them. You have to back them and spread the abrasive out so we can even go anywhere. It's just treacherous. You can't stomp on it or anything. Those heavy trucks are hard to handle in that ice."

The city of Farmington will have 16 or 17 employees tackling the ice and snow on its 200 miles of streets. An additional 15 to 20 workers will clear limb breakage.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU
Image courtesy of the National Weather Service.


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