KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- With less than two months until the official start of winter, the KCMO Public Works Department updated city council members on its 2020-2021 snow removal plan on Thursday.
Maggie Green, Public Information Officer for KCMO Public Works Department, says the plan will stay mostly the same compared to last year, but a few key changes will be made.
“It’s about developing the strategy, using our dollars wisely and using the right tool at the right time," she said.
The city will bid out a contract for snow removal this winter season. KCMO has relied on in-house operations for snow removal, but this winter season it will seek help. The decision was part of a recommendation city council made last year, in addition to fewer staff as a result of the pandemic. The public works department had to cut 30 positions it was unable to fill before the city tightened its budget. The city’s plan to bid out for snow removal will help operations on neighborhood streets.
KCTV5 News asked KCMO residents what grade they would give the city for its snow removal operations in previous years. Some residents felt Kansas City crews do a good job on major roadways where they live, but others want improvements.
“They do downtown first, basically, and the side streets are just a ‘if we can get to them’ [scenario],” says south Kansas City resident Terrence Nash.
Green explains public works crews treat curb to curb, 24/7 on major roadways during snow events, as opposed to neighborhood streets which are only plowed during daylight to make them accessible. Green says a contractor will also provide the “boots on the ground” the department needs and doesn’t currently have.
“As cases rise in KCMO we’re taking as many precautions as we can within our maintenance crews, but there are people who will come down with coronavirus, or the flu, so making sure that we’re ready for that is another thing that might look a little different this year,” says Green.
During Thursday’s business session, a few city council members expressed concern about how much money it would cost to have contractors hired for snow removal operations. Green says public works will gather that information once the bid is offered next week, as well as how much of operations would be contracted out.
“I’d like to see them use judgement in how much the salt and sand is being placed and to go behind these subcontractors to see if they are doing an adequate job to meet our needs as citizens,” says KCMO resident Deborah Washam.
Green adds, residents and snow plow drivers will also have access to better, more accurate data this snow season. The city debuted its snow map technology last year, but received needed improvements this year.
“We did get a lot of data about where it was tracking our plows and where it wasn’t tracking our plows.”
Residents can log on to the KCMO website and access the snow map to see when their street was last treated. If residents notice any slick spots, they can report the issue using snow bot, an automated service through 311.