MISSOULA – By the time February rolls around, snow plows have put in some hard work clearing streets across the state.
City of Missoula street maintenance crews can attest to that, but say that overall this year hasn’t been so bad…until this past week.
“This last week was a little bit more challenging for us with the cold temperatures that we had over the weekend, coupled with the wind,” said Deputy Director of Public Works for Streets Brian Hensel. “We had folks out on, well all weekend, busting through drifts that were blocking streets from emergency services. So we actually put forth quite a bit of effort so we could get those streets open.”
With some warmer conditions in the forecast for the rest of the week, crews hope to get as much snow cleared out while they can.
“As we move forward here with these warmer temperatures we’ve got a pretty good handle on our priority ones and twos,” Hensel added. “We are getting through our priority threes and some of the guys are even moving into their residential plowing as we speak and, hopefully, if this snow stays away we can get more residential going.”
As plows move through the streets of Missoula they use a priority system to try and get vital, high-traffic areas cleared off first.
“Years ago the city established a priority system where we try to maximize our resources and equipment and crew to do the most good as quick as possible,” Hensel said.
Streets like Brooks are high-traffic areas that need to stay clear for emergency responders and bus routes, so they get put on a higher priority list and receive more attention from city plows during the winter months.
“Ones’ are the main routes that get the most traffic, are also bus routes and we always get those first. Priority twos are streets with lower traffic volumes, likely still bus routes. And then lastly are priority three which are often time streets that have grades to them or curvature to them so we have to get out and put additional effort into those as well,” Hensel said. “The last category is what we call the low-volume residential that we often don’t get into, maybe once or twice a winter.”
Keep in mind we’re supposed to get some more snow this weekend.
The city also said they do their best to clear out large snow berms that accumulate from plowing, but also appreciate any help from Missoula citizens doing their part clearing berms in front of their houses.