West Plains' street department will handle winter weather a little different this year

WEST PLAINS, Mo. -- Winter weather is on its way to the Ozarks and that means cities and towns are preparing for the worst case scenario. The City of West Plains says its street department will do things a bit differently this year when dealing with the snow and ice.

This winter is expected to be very long and cold, so the West Plains Street Department is implementing new strategies designed to improve efficiency, increase safety, and reduce material and manpower costs. Thursday morning, supervisors with the city met in a pre-planning meeting to make sure everything is ready ahead of the storm.

"When the snow starts falling, that's when we get called in, when we go to work," Street superintendent Brian Mitchell told KY3.

Mitchell and his crew of men started preparing for winter snow season back in September.

All seven of the city's snow plows and spreaders, along with other heavy equipment were checked for any issues.

Four years ago, the city added another bin to the salt shed.

This ensured there would be enough salt and road mix to last all winter long.

"We've got around 1,000 tons of our mix which consists of just a crushed limestone, a quarter-inch minus, rock salt and sawdust. We also have approximately 14 tractor trailer loads of salt, just pure salt," Mitchell said.

West Plains police officers play a big role in keeping the roads safe.

"They monitor the streets conditions for us. Whenever it starts to become slick, they will initiate the street department to come out and start doing their job," City of West Plains Emergency Management Director Kent Edge added.

And for the first time, Mitchell says the city will focus on main thoroughfares when the precipitation starts falling.

"Pretty well the main drags of different neighborhoods or city streets, whether it be commercial areas or residential. We'll spend our time on those. We'll get the snow removed, we'll get them all treated. We'll try and get them curb to curb or ditch to ditch," Mitchell explained.

The street department will have eight crew members working 12-hour shifts to help maintain the 125 miles of city streets.

However, if the temperatures fall below 20 degrees, don't expect to see crews spreading the mix.

"The salt won't activate, it won't start melting to start that process and it's typically around the midnight time. We try and get people home at night, home and safe. We're going to try and let the guys go home and get some rest so that we're safe also," Mitchell exclaimed.

Mitchell suggests getting out now if you need groceries.

Fewer people on the roads means crews can clear roads quicker.

And if you normally park in the street, Mitchell asks you to move your car.

"If people can park in their driveways, that helps a lot. It gets their cars, those objects out of the way. It's less dangerous for our drivers and just the traveling public."

Don't forget your three P's as the weather approaches: people, pets and pipes.

Stay up to date with road conditions in your area by going to ky3.com.