On the street
One thing is that I got to sleep in for a change, and I’m going to go sledding later this afternoon.
The snow came. The salt didn't.
Lawrence street crews are expected to run out of road salt sometime today, meaning that snow may be sticking around on city streets longer than anyone wants.
"We can get plenty of sand, and it churns up the snow, but it doesn't melt it," said Dena Mezger, the city's assistant director of public works.
That will make the city's street plowing operations more critical, Mezger said. She said crews started major plowing work at 2 a.m. Wednesday, but a significant amount of snow fell after plowing began. She said that required the city to replow major streets, which means it will take longer for crews to get to residential streets.
The lack of salt, she said, will make it particularly difficult to clear those residential streets. That's because as residential streets become heavily packed, the melting power of the salt is used to help make plowing more effective.
"We'll still make it through," Mezger said. "We'll use more sand. We'll plow as usual. But it may not be quite as good an end product as we like to provide."
Lawrence and Douglas County law enforcement agencies reported several accidents on Wednesday. From 7 p.m. Tuesday to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Lawrence police responded to 20 noninjury accidents and three minor injury accidents, a spokeswoman said. Officers also received 31 calls for motorist assistance.
Douglas County Sheriff's officers, meanwhile, investigated a total of four noninjury accidents with vehicle damage and received 20 reports of vehicles sliding into ditches between 7 p.m. Tuesday and 5 p.m. Wednesday. There were 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 snowfall didn't catch public works officials off-guard. Instead it caught them stocking up. The city has had an order for 500 tons of salt for approximately a month, Mezger said. It was scheduled to arrive Wednesday, but the snowstorm slowed deliveries from salt mines in southern Kansas.
"The production facility we buy from is simply unable to keep up with all the orders and backorders they have," Mezger said. "Everybody is in about the same situation."
The bigger issue may be how long Lawrence streets should expect to remain on a low-sodium diet.
Mezger said she's still holding out some hope for the city to receive at least one more salt shipment, but the department also is planning to do without for the remainder of the season.
"What we're really hoping is that we're about through with all of this," Mezger said. "We'd like to be done for the year."