As one of the largest snowfalls in recent years is forecast to hit Franklin County this weekend, county highway crews are prepared to meet it head-on.
Highway Administrator Ron Williams said with the bulk of the snow coming Friday night, the tentative plan was to begin snow removal operations at 5:30 Saturday morning.
“Everybody will be here, all 52 employees,” Williams said. “We should be able to get a pretty good jump on it before everyone gets up Saturday morning.”
Friday, highway personnel were prepping and testing snow removal equipment to make sure everything was in top working order when the first flakes began to fall midday.
Williams said the county has close to 20 plows that will be on the roads. In addition to the plow drivers, employees will be in the operations yards running equipment and keeping the trucks filled with salt.
Williams said crews will be monitoring the snowfall Friday afternoon and overnight and if accumulations began to increase earlier than planned, plowing operations could begin sooner.
“We will do some pretreating with a salt/calcium chloride solution on the heavier traveled routes,” Williams said. “We are anticipating a snow event. Temperatures during the day Saturday are supposed to get above freezing to 35 to 36, so that will assist in melting.”
The timing of the storm and plowing response is handcuffed somewhat by the federal Department of Transportation restrictions on the number of hours crews can work in a given shift.
“They can only work 11 hours in a 14-hour time period,” Williams said. “Every piece of equipment has its area and they know where to hit first. They have their own pattern and try to be as efficient as possible without doubling back on areas already cleared.”
Williams added these “hot routes” are the more heavily traveled in the county and would obviously get the first attention.
“We’ll hit every road and get all 450 miles plowed,” Williams said. “Trucks will be doing the paved roads and the graders will do gravel roads.”
In addition to county crews clearing the roads this weekend, residents who live within city limits will see municipal crews clearing snow in the cities as well.
Williams said the Missouri Department of Transportation is responsible for the highways in the county as well as the lettered routes.
“They all have their own routes and plans as well,” Williams said. “We will focus on ours and they will focus on theirs.”
Williams added the one entity the county may assist would be the special road districts.
“They will be out doing the best they can,” Williams said. “Hopefully it won’t be as bad as they say it’s going to be.”