During snow events, the City of Smithville plows over 100 lane miles of roadway, 89 cul de sacs and numerous short, dead end street stubs. This work is completed by 5 employees working extended shifts. The immediate goal during snow storms is to make the roads passable for emergency vehicles and those that must be on the roads.
The City’s ultimate goal is to clean snow from every street from curb to curb. In order to complete this task, the 100 lane miles must be travelled from 2 to 4 times to properly clear streets. In addition, the average cul de sac takes 15-20 minutes to properly clear. To complete these tasks, the city maintains a fleet of two large vehicle plows and five pick-up truck plows. The large vehicle plows are assigned the principal duty of opening and clearing the primary and secondary routes, with the five smaller vehicles responsible for residential streets and intersections.
In addition to the 100 lane miles of streets that the City of Smithville maintains, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) also maintains several miles of state highways inside our city limits that are primary routes. MoDOT is responsible for plowing 169 and 92 highways, DD Highway from 169 to 92, F Highway from 169 Spur to the Clinton County line, W highway from 169 to the City Limits, and 169 Spur from 169 Highway to Church St.
Depending upon the type and amount of snow expected, the snow policy is designed to remain flexible enough to allow the most efficient use of staff time and equipment. The City’s first priority is to open the city maintained primary arterial streets for emergency vehicle access and other vehicle access. Once this process is completed, then these streets will be cleared of snow while also beginning to open the secondary routes. The secondary routes will be the next priority, with opening each for all vehicle access the goal. Once all primary and secondary routes are opened, the residential streets will be opened.
To assist in this process, it is advisable to avoid parking on city streets. Any parked cars will delay the process, and can become snow and iced into those locations. In addition to delays due to parked cars, it is required to return to previously cleared streets where homeowners plow or blow the snow from their driveway and sidewalks into the street. This situation often results in obstructed streets, and significant delays to complete snow removal.
The City of Smithville follows the regional custom of plowing all streets by discharging snow towards the right, or the curb of all streets. On most streets this will often result in a ‘windrow’ of snow deposited along the curb and can block previously cleared driveways, mailbox areas and storm drains. This is an unavoidable circumstance of plowing streets, but is necessary to make the streets passable. The impact of windrows can be lessened by a homeowner if they choose to make a windrow clearance area by removing the snow from the city street a width of 6 feet from the curb, and a distance of 24 feet from the edge of your driveway (traveling 24 feet against the flow of traffic) which will allow the plow blade to empty prior to crossing the driveway. Homeowners are required to deposit ALL blown or plowed snow (whether from a driveway, sidewalk or the windrow clearance area) off into the grass area between the sidewalk and the curb, or in their yard area.
In cul de sac’s, these methods will not work, as the geometry of the area places most driveways much closer together, and windrows are not created. Any cars parked in a cul de sac will reduce the ability of City staff to properly clear the street. Given the much larger amount of snow in a cul de sac and the geometry, the plowed snow must be concentrated in the most convenient area that doesn’t include a driveway. This often results in very large snow piles at the end of such streets, often to the dismay of the affected property owner. After all streets have been cleared, the street department will attempt to remove much of this stockpiled snow, but this often occurs several hours or days later.
We understand that this policy can be frustrating to a few homeowners, but it is currently the best option available for the City, given the budget impacts of any deviations from those policies. It is not recommended to attempt to flag down a plow operator during the process as the operator did not set the policy, and is required to not deviate from the policy. In addition to the plow operators’ inability to deviate from this policy, it is dangerous to both you and the operator if you approach a vehicle while in operation. Further, any conversations with the plow operator will result in an unnecessary delay in clearing all streets. Homeowner’s with questions or complaints about the snow removal on their street should contact City Hall at 816-532-3897.