NewsMissoula County


The planning behind snowplowing Missoula’s roads

snowy roads
Missoula snowplow
MIssoula plowing priroities
Posted at 7:38 AM, Nov 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-10 10:22:40-05

The roads were busy in Missoula on Wednesday even as the snow kept falling.

Road conditions -- especially on Interstate 90 around town -- were snow-covered and icy.

These November storms had many in the community wondering about plowing.

We checked in with local transportation officials about the process behind the plows.

The pressure was on the City of Missoula and Missoula County plowing processes to work their magic and make sure the roads are safe.

Missoula snowplow
A snowplow working on Missoula's roads on Nov. 9, 2022.

However, due to limited resources and heavy snowfall, certain roads are given higher priority than others.

The City of Missoula rates the streets in three categories, priority one, two and three.

Priority one and two roads are mainly high-traffic public transit roads and bus routes.

Lower priority streets are typically low-volume residential streets.

Typically, the city aims to have these top priority areas plowed and de-iced by 7:30 am, while priority three roads are plowed within three working days.

However, Missoula Deputy Director of Public Works Brian Hensel said that that’s proving impossible on Wednesday.

MIssoula plowing priroities

“What I'm seeing right now is we get some streets plowed and in about 20 minutes it's all covered up again. So, we're having to repeat our efforts on all these main routes,” Henzel explained Wednesday.

“I would ask that people certainly drive slow, drive careful. And we will continue to work throughout the day and into the night until we're finished,” he continued.

Hensel pointed out that this week's focus was meant to be leaf cleanup, and the city was not expecting this heavy snowfall until December.

MTN News also talked with Missoula County Engineer Erik Dickson who said they were short-staffed on Wednesday and also had three plowing trucks malfunction.

Still, Dickson said they try to get to every road every day and will send drivers out on their holiday on Thursday if needed.