ST. LOUIS (AP) - The director of the Missouri Department of Transportation has apologized for the mess in the St. Louis area caused by the relatively light snowfall this week.
St. Louis-area highways were gridlocked for hours after snow began falling just before Thursday's morning rush hour. The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported nearly 300 calls about accidents and vehicles sliding off roadways. Interstate Highway 64 was so slick in spots that cars and trucks spun their tires and couldn't move. Some commutes took more than three hours.
MoDOT chief Kevin Keith told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/zAmzU2) that he was unhappy about the effort to clear roadways.
"We didn't do a very good job, and my reaction to that is, I'm disappointed," Keith said. "I want to apologize to the people of St. Louis and those in that part Missouri for our efforts. You should expect more from us, and you'll get it."
MoDOT decided not to pretreat interstates with a salt brine solution, even though 2 to 3 inches of snow was in the forecast the previous night. Instead, crews filled trucks with rock salt and began spreading it when the snow began. They then planned to make a second trip and spread chemicals.
But by that time, it was too late and many roadways were frozen over.
"Traffic hit at the time we needed to be out there for the next round," St. Louis District Engineer Ed Hassinger said. "We just couldn't get there."
Keith said there was no excuse because MoDOT had ample manpower and equipment. He said he has already spoken with St. Louis-area officials about how to prevent similar problems in the future.
"We still have an expectation that when it snows, we're ready," Keith said. "I wasn't very happy about it. I've expressed my displeasure and expect it won't happen again."
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com