Governments, MODOT urge residents to stay off roads Tuesday - KCTV5

Governments, MODOT urge residents to stay off roads Tuesday

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

A major winter storm is forecast to dump 6 to 10 inches of snow on the Kansas City area, and government officials are urging businesses and schools to close and residents stay home or allow telecommuting.

Many county governments, including Shawnee, Jackson County and many Kansas administrative offices, are shuttering their doors on Tuesday. Schools are also closing.

Snow moved into the Kansas City area at sunrise Tuesday, and the teeth of the storm should arrive mid-morning.

KCTV5 Meteorologist Tom Wachs called it the "banker's hour" storm because the bulk of the hours will arrive during times that workers would normally come and go from work.

The storm will be followed by strong winds and bitterly cold temperatures. The winds will bring white-out conditions.

Residents stocked up on groceries and other items, wiping store shelves clear of essentials like bread and shovels. Lodging establishments reported being full with reservations with some coming as hospitals, employers and others booked rooms for workers.

The Missouri Department of Transportation urged residents to stay off the slick and snow-packed roads on Tuesday.

"MODOT urges employers to consider allowing their employees to work from home or forego coming into work on Tuesday for their employees' safety as well as keeping highways clear for snowplows to do their job during the peak of the storm," the agency said in a news release.

MODOT hopes to avoid a repeat of the Feb. 21, 2013, snowstorm that hit mid-morning after many area residents were already at work.

"Many employers sent their workers home early once they realized how heavy the snow was falling. That crush of traffic during midday, in the middle of our efforts, clogged highways, interstates and interchanges and resulting in bringing our snow fighting efforts to standstill for hours at a time at key points in our highway system," MODOT District Engineer Dan Niec said.

Similar incidents happened in Atlanta last week as schools weren't closed for the day, and the decision to close schools and businesses early after the snow and ice began to fall created traffic pandemonium.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James said crews don't want to dig out motorists.

"If you stay home, you might not have that problem," he said.

He also said to give crews at least until Wednesday to get residential streets cleared.

"Just remember, we plow the equivalent of San Diego to Boston and back every time there's a snow. That isn't done in 15 minutes. This isn't a city with five city blocks and 15 snow plows, this is a city of 316 square miles, 6,300 miles and about 200 trucks and our people do a tremendous job so give them a chance and they'll show it to you," he said.

In Kansas City, residents are urged not to park on the street in order to make it easier for snow plow operators to do their jobs. If you must park on the street, you are asked to park on the west side of streets running north and south and the north side of streets running east and west.

Violators face tickets or towing.

In Fairway, vehicles must be removed from streets through 6 a.m. to keep streets clear for emergency vehicles and plows. Vehicles will be towed when needed, city officials said.

Public works and transportation companies expect to work 12-hour shifts through the course of the storm.

Even before a snow flake had fallen, the storm had wrecked havoc with plans across the area. The Missouri Mavericks canceled their hockey game against the Allen Americans Tuesday night at the Independence Events Center.

Boulevard Brewing Co. and Christopher Elbow had planned to launch this year's edition of a chocolate ale from Tuesday to Wednesday to keep delivery trucks off the road.

On the Missouri side, some highways will be treated with beet juice. When it's below 25 degrees, salt brine won't de-ice. Since 2010, MODOT mixes in beet juice with the salt brine and puts it on roads. The liquid is what is left over when sugar beets are made into table sugar.

"It creates a barrier between the roadway and the snow so when we go out there later on, it's easier for us to remove the snow from the roadway," MODOT maintenance supervisor Chris Sholl said. "The syrupy substance drops the freezing point of the salt brine. So when everything else is icy, the roads won't be."

The beet juice makes the salt brine less corrosive, meaning less damage to the roads and vehicles.

"Before beet juice came into play, you noticed a great deal of potholes. Not only from the temperatures, but from the added salt to the roadway," Sholl said. "Now that we add beet juice to the salt, I've been noticing less potholes in the roadway."

The beet juice smells like soy sauce and is thick and sticky like maple syrup. The stickiness allows the salt to stay on the road longer as well, and cuts down on costs.

KCTV5's Erika Tallan, Betsy Webster, Alice Barr and Jamie Oberg contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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