With tight budgets, snow plows to make fewer runs

Missouri transportation officials plan less plowing on roadways this winter because of tight budgets.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Friday that plow crews will be responsible for making roads “passable,” but not necessarily clear. That could mean no extra runs to remove little bands of snow. The Department of Transportation says it plans to use equipment and technology better.

Transportation Department Director Kevin Keith says the roads will remain safe. He says the new snow plowing requirement makes more sense financially because fuel taxes are flat after falling during the recent recession.

Fuel taxes account for about three-quarters of the Transportation Department’s budget.

The first test for the new snow plowing policy could be today when rain is expected to become snow in some parts of the state.

In Mid-Missouri, transportation officials say motorists should see little change in how the roads are treated.

“We’ll still respond like always,” said District Engineer Roger Schwartze. “When a storm starts, we’ll pre-treat roads. Where we’ll save money is at the end of the storm. In the past, we worked on roads 24 hours until they were all clean.

“Now we’ll try to stop just short, leaving the last round of treatment or plowing to save on overtime and salt supplies. The priorities will stay the same with the major roads being U.S. 50, 54 and 63.”

Road and street crews in Jefferson City and Cole County said motorists should see no changes in how roadways are cleaned.

“We’re always looking at ways we can do things more efficiently, but we don’t want to put the public’s safety at risk,” said Britt Smith, Jefferson City parking and street director.

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