MoDOT urges limited travel during this week’s winter storm

By Jordan Shapiro

State Capitol Bureau, Missouri Digital News

JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Department of Transportation braces for what it calls a “historic” snow storm amid concerns the extreme weather will shut down the state.

The National Weather Service projects the storm will bring 12-18 inches of snow to Missouri by nightfall Tuesday. The state’s transportation department is urging people to limit travel as much as possible during the next few days.

“If you don’t need to be out there then stay home,” Jorma Duran, a spokesman for the department, said.

Duran said among the department’s biggest concerns are the expected ice accumulations. The National Weather Service projects that around a quarter inch of ice will accumulate by early Tuesday morning. Duran said that crews are, “laying down salt on curves and intersections as we speak.”

“Our men and women are out there right now salting the roads,” Duran said.

Across the state, the departments’s ten districts are assessing their salt supplies and preparing their strategies for the projected storm.

Michael Teel, District Maintenance Supervisor for the departments’s central district, said they have 50 percent of their salt supply remaining, which equates to about 15,000 tons. With this amount he said he is not worried about running out of salt.

The Kansas City District said they have about 65 percent of their salt remaining, but that they will refrain from using the salt during the periods of heavy snowfall tomorrow, according to Wess Murray, Maintenance Superintendent.

The St. Louis District reports 50 percent of their salt remaining, but Marie Elliott, Community Relations Director, said they will be done treating the roads with salt shortly. Elliot said crews have been salting the roads since Sunday and having been using a mixture of salt and sand in order to conserve the supply.

In Springfield, communication relations specialist Angela Eden said they have about 60 percent of their supply left. According to Eden, they won’t start salting until Tuesday, when temperatures are expected to drop below 32 degrees.

Teel said the primary focus for the Columbia area will be Interstate 70, followed by Highways 63 and 54. Once those areas are cleared, the department’s, crews will move into Columbia and begin to clear the major state roads around MU, including Stadium Dr. and College Ave.

Right now, the department’s crews are working on treating “slick spots” throughout the area according to Teel. He also has contacted some contracting companies in an attempt to line up additional labor should it be needed to plow the roads tomorrow. Teel said the storm is “mainly a plow event.”

“The public should feel good about how we are preparing, but they really need to stay home,” said Duran.