Archive for Wednesday, February 6, 2008

City about to run out of road salt

Officials warn that residential streets will be rough-going for awhile

February 6, 2008


Lawrence street maintenance crews are expected to soon run out of road salt to treat city streets, which means that some streets will be in snow-packed conditions longer than normal.

Dena Mezger, the city's assistant director of public works, said crews are expected to run out of salt by Thursday, leaving only sand available to treat the roads.

"We can get plenty of sand, and it churns up the snow, but it doesn't melt it," Mezger said.

That will make the city's street plowing operations more critical, Mezger said. She said crews started major plowing operations at 2 a.m. Wednesday, but a significant amount of snow fell after plowing began. She said that required the city to replow the major city streets, which means it will take longer for crews to get to residential streets.

She said the lack of salt will make it particularly difficult to clear those residential streets. That's because the residential streets become heavily packed, and the salt is used to help make plowing more effective.

"The snow pack in the neighborhoods may be worse than we would like," Mezger said.

Mezger said the city has 500 tons of road salt on order. It was scheduled to be delivered today, but that is now unlikely. Mezger is not sure when, or if, the city will get another shipment of salt.

"I think it is an iffy proposition because everybody is waiting on salt," Mezger said. "They just can't keep up with the orders."

City street crews have been treating streets since 8 p.m. Tuesday, Lawrence street maintenance director Tom Orzulak said. He expected work to continue for the next 30 hours.

Orzulak said the city's main streets are in fair condition, and residential streets are in poor condition.

Blowing snow because of wind gusts up to 25 mph wasn't helping matters, and at 11 a.m. the temperature at Lawrence Municipal Airport was 23 degrees.

From 7 p.m. Tuesday to 8 a.m. today Lawrence police responded to 13 non-injury accidents and two minor injury accidents, a spokeswoman said. Officers also received 17 calls for motorist assistance.

Douglas County Sheriff's officers investigated two vehicle collisions and received 17 reports of vehicles sliding into ditches. There have been no injuries, Lt. Kari Wempe said.

Downtown Lawrence received 5 inches of snow, 6News meteorologist Matt Elwell said. Areas in western Lawrence saw higher amounts, he said.

The snow caused several local and area schools to cancel classes today, including Lawrence public schools, Kansas University and Haskell Indian Nations University.


torcia 10 years, 1 month ago

After living in Lawrence for a few years I am glad to have moved back to Minneapolis. We get alot more snow here but at least public works knows how to handle it. Good luck

Layne Moore 10 years, 1 month ago

Those guys do a thankless job. Early mornings and long hours. So, thank you for helping to clear the roads for us.

Bassetlover 10 years, 1 month ago

We seem to be one of the few communities who use sand to treat the roads. Of all the cities this size and smaller that I've been to this winter, Lawrence seems to be the only one filled with sand. Why? Yes, it is effective in preventing lots of slipping and sliding, but the ensuing mess it creates after the roads dry....uggghhh! And we're forced to live with the mess til the end of March when the street sweepers finally clean it all up. There is enough sand on our street to build a beach. All the other towns/cities seem to do fine without it. Why can't we? Please enlighten.

geniusmannumber1 10 years, 1 month ago

"After living in Lawrence for a few years I am glad to have moved back to Minneapolis. We get alot more snow here but at least public works knows how to handle it."

Public works knows how to handle it BECAUSE Minnesota gets a lot more snow, you ninny.

rhoadsstevens 10 years, 1 month ago

I'm not trying to be mean here--I understand plowing can be a thankless job--but I don't think the roads look good at all right now. Does anyone else agree with me? Around 12:30 this afternoon, I drove down Iowa St. and it was horrible. It didn't look plowed at all, and I saw several cars skid. What's more, I saw no plows. I also drove down 23rd, and it was also bad.

Steve Mechels 10 years, 1 month ago

They never used to use salt in Montana and I think the roads were easier drive on (although snow-packed). Seems that the sand was a little coarser than what is used here however. Anyone that is familiar with Minnesota should remember what straight salt used to do to vehicles; we used to call it body cancer...lots of rusted out wheel wells and side panels.

Haiku_Cuckoo 10 years, 1 month ago

After living in Lawrence for a few years I am glad to have moved back to Minneapolis. We get alot more snow here but at least public works knows how to handle it.

Maybe public works should have used some of that money to strengthen your bridges.

more_cowbell 10 years, 1 month ago

I second paperplate and its_getting_warmer--guess that means I "third" the kudos to the road crews for putting in the hard work today.

It's hard to keep up with all the plowing that needs done, rhoadsstevens, and as long as people are driving carefully (a BIG ask for undergrads, of course), the big streets are at least driveable... much more so than the side streets.

So to everyone who has to drive today, drive safely!

Curtis Lange 10 years, 1 month ago

I can understand the lack of well plowed roads less than 6 hours after the storm. There are hundreds of miles of roadway in this city. Compared to other cities around us though, our road crews suck. DAYS after a storm there are still residential streets that are near impassable. I'm happy when it snows, but at the same time hate it. This is because I know it will be a PITA to drive around for a few days.

Thankfully, today, the city has Mother Nature helping them a bit since the sun is out. BTW, I got 6.5" just southwest of downtown.

Ragingbear 10 years, 1 month ago

Lawrence has also been substituting plowing with sprinkling sand and salt on the road, even though there is 6 inches of accumulation on them. This is pointless and worthless. The city needs to get a grip.

BTW, if you get up early on the mornings the plows run, you will find the streets out mayor lives on will be freshly plowed and salted.

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 1 month ago

As long as the city doesn't run out of wheat beer, we're still ok.

pomegranate 10 years, 1 month ago

Not that I am a big fan of Hacksaw, but higher-ups get perks. You get on the commission, and become mayor, and I will bet your street is taken care of too. Give the lady a break sometimes--she takes a lot of flak from we "commentors".

ukillaJJ 10 years, 1 month ago

Another prime example of Lawrence Public Works sitting on their laurels until the sun begins to shine. Both 9th and 19th streets looked like giant white slip-and-slides all morning and they are just now plowing them (at 2:00 PM). Plus, these streets are "major arteries" according to the city of Lawrence.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 1 month ago

I'll take what we have over what happened south of here. There are reportedly 50 people dead from the tornados. How sad. Everyone slow down and be careful. It will melt soon.

kujhawk 10 years, 1 month ago

Maybe we should be like other major communities and not plow residental streets at all, after all Lawrence is in a budget crisis?? So not doing residentals would save the city quite a bit of money, correct?? To all of those that do the snow work, thanks, your work is appreciated by many, although, not on here!!

Haiku_Cuckoo 10 years, 1 month ago

I moved to Overland Park about 8 months ago-the change in winter road conditions is amazing.

I'll take snow-covered roads in Lawrence over cleared roads in O.P any day of the week. I used to live in Leawood and found the heavy traffic and lack of character in that area to be depressing.

Curtis Lange 10 years, 1 month ago

kujhawk, No idea where you're from, but all major communities plow their residential streets (around here anyways). Heck, my parent's cul-de-sac in Leavenworth was plowed by 9am.

Bobbie Ward-Hinds 10 years, 1 month ago

It can be difficult to plan for salt needs. Even Des Moines is facing running out of salt and they "know" how to do snow. Des Moines has over 1500 miles of residential streets and no one expects them to be plowed six hours after a snow storm. In fact, it's the norm for them to not be plowed until the day after a storm as the main arteries are worked on and kept open as well as possible.

It's snow. You live in the midwest. Deal with it.

MIke Mallory 10 years, 1 month ago

To all the negative people on here, Is the sun shinning to bright for you? Get over yourself, big deal you cleared your driveway that had not been driven on, there is a big difference.

workinghard 10 years, 1 month ago

I just hope they clear the streets completely around ALL the schools. They never have in the past. Unless your school entrance is on a major street you're out of luck. It doesn't take a genius to figure out if there is school that day, there will be hundreds of cars dropping off their kids. But go completely around the school where the parents have to drive. Maybe then people won't stop on major streets such as 19th during rush hour to drop their kids off causing rear end collisions. Don't get me wrong, the workers do their best and I appreciate it, but maybe this just hasn't occurred to them.

gccs14r 10 years, 1 month ago

If people would take the time to clear the piece of roadway in front of their houses, the City wouldn't have to send plows (or sand or salt) into the residential areas at all. Same goes for sweeping. It doesn't take much time to clear a 12'x50' chunk of roadway. I suppose that's too much to ask of a populace that can't be bothered to clean sidewalks, though.

geniusmannumber1 10 years, 1 month ago

gccs14r --

Let me get this straight--I pay the city money. That money goes to maintain their property. Yet you suggest I pay the city money and maintain their property?

ASBESTOS 10 years, 1 month ago

That "Global Worming" sure creates a lot of snowfall,... HEY Wait a minute, that is cold!!

Richard Heckler 10 years, 1 month ago

Some options: move closer to job site leave earlier and drive slow drive slow wherever you go walk ride the T - one bus pollutes a whole lot less than 50 cars stay home, play cards, relax and maybe add a brew or vino later in the day. Yes enjoy yourself!

Thanks city staff for working on call cuz we know sometimes that ain't always fun no matter what the pay. I don't expect city staff to work all night.

Christian Hinton 10 years, 1 month ago

As a student, I was really surprised that KU cancelled class today. I do not entirely see the justification.

Can someone enlighten me?

Hoots 10 years, 1 month ago

The plows took out my Parent's mailbox for the 3rd time this year. They are a couple of unhappy senior citizens.

Puff_Dragon 10 years, 1 month ago

Streets were empty at 6:50 a.m. anyway. All those outdoorsey mountain men couldn't handle it in their 4x4's so they had to take a 'terrible road conditions' day......haha

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 1 month ago

GitS, I was wondering the same thing. I can recall getting stuck in the snow as I was trying to park, abandoning the car and hoofing it to class at KU. That's deeper snow than yesterday's.

I've noticed more snow days given for schools in general, seems everytime it snows even a little. I chalk it up to our litigious and politically correct world.

volunteer 10 years, 1 month ago

I gotta agree that the OP has a reputation for quick snow removal. The city council, I guess, places a high priority on it.

An enterprising youth with a shovel and willingness to work would have made a mint on my block today. Three of us retirees were shoveling driveways about the same time, a little past noon. I had a $20 bill by the door just in case, but didn't really expect anyone to come by. Oh well, probably good exercise anyhow. Took it a bit at a time.

Gabe Hoffman 10 years, 1 month ago

I love the thankless job bit.

We all work thankless jobs. And the more money you make doing it, the less thanks your recieve.

No thanks, unless they start doing for free.

toefungus 10 years, 1 month ago

I have been running out of salt for a while now. Time for toefungus to say good bye and head for warmer weather. Having to wear shoes all the time is murder.

gccs14r 10 years, 1 month ago

G-man, it's your property out to the middle of the roadway, but the City has an easement to put a road there.

Look at it this way: if everyone shoveled their own streets, there would either be more money in the budget for street repair, or taxes could be reduced.

gccs14r 10 years, 1 month ago

Oh, and the streets would be cleared faster if 80,000 people each leaned on a shovel for a bit than they are by waiting for a plow (or the Sun) to come around.

geniusmannumber1 10 years, 1 month ago

It's actually a right-of-way in many (if not most) cases, not an easement, and it doesn't necessarily go to the middle of the street (although mine being an older neighborhood, it happens to). However, I cannot take it back from the city; I cannot forbid others from using it; for all practical purposes, I cannot sell it. For all intents and purposes, it belongs to the city, regardless of whether I "own" the property on paper. But thank you for the lesson.

gccs14r 10 years, 1 month ago

How much (little) would your property be worth if it were inaccessible, except by air? You receive a benefit from having a road out front.

Lovethephog 10 years, 1 month ago

I used to live in Lawrence 4 years ago moved from bodunk Tonganoxie. Enjoyed the delivery pizza the college town atmosphere, and the challenges of getting around in the snow. Now if you really want to gritch about something how about the flow of the traffic lights in lawrence and how that messes with your day ??????????

mr_economy 10 years, 1 month ago


Have any bright ideas for where the students who LIVE along those streets without any other possible place to park might place their vehicles? I live on Illinois in a fourplex that provides 4 parking spots in the alley, but there are 8 cars from the people living here. We are forced to park on the street if we're not one of the lucky 4. Until you can solve the lack of parking space, deal with having to drive a few more blocks West to Iowa St.

KsTwister 10 years, 1 month ago

Some people work all hours of the day and night and must drive(no buses) but when the little amount of snow we get doesn't get cleared the roads are a hazard. People here are not asking for much but one lane on each road would be better then what we are getting to deal with. Lawrence did a better job in the past with more snow and ice. I suggest you call that city manager and ask how! We are paying for the service I think the city should give us a refund.

workinghard 10 years, 1 month ago

gccs14r - Just curious, did you set a good example for us all and clear your 12x50? Maybe you live on a corner and did twice as much. No fair using a riding mower or snow blower, citizens should not have to buy one when they already helped pay for snowploys.

Christian Hinton 10 years, 1 month ago


You know, this is the first time since 2004 that they've done it. I just don't see why today was so much worse than a dozen other non-cancelled school days I can recall.

workinghard 10 years, 1 month ago

I was told that if KU cancels classes they do not get any state funding for that day. The teachers can cancel the class if they want to if KU stays open. At least that is what I was told.

gccs14r 10 years, 1 month ago

Yes, I did shovel my side of the street, plus along the curb line in front of the retiree who lives next door. (My gf had already shoveled the drive for her, or I would have done that, too.)

Most homeowners have neither the expertise nor the equipment for proper road repair, so that is something best left to the City.

KsTwister 10 years, 1 month ago

Just to make a point,many of the stores who had plows come in and do no more than to scrape the snow in a pile. Their pavements are cleared and dry. Perhaps because they put the blades down??? Even the highways were cleared better then the main city streets. I understand not being able to do all of them but one or two would have been a good attempt. Why wait until it stops to try to catch up?? Lawrence did great jobs in the past with even 10-12 inches all at once. I remember that very well. But then maybe our cheaply made surfaces can take it?

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