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National organization in KC helps public works departments improve snow strategies

snow plow ice storm
Posted at 9:32 AM, Apr 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-03 10:32:33-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — This winter’s weather took a toll on streets around Kansas City, Missouri. First drivers had to find which roads were plowed; and once the snow melted, drivers had to dodge a multitude of potholes.

To improve efficiency and find better strategies to solve those issues, the public works department collaborates with a national organization based in Kansas City, Missouri, called theAmerican Public Works Association (APWA).

From an office on the 14th floor of a downtown office building, the APWA advocates for more money, better safety regulations and other causes in Washington D.C. It also collects and shares best practices for infrastructure projects. Each year, it hosts a conference which focuses on snow removal equipment and strategies.

The 2019 Snow Conference is in Salt Lake City this May. KCMO will send the city’s public works director, Sherri McIntyre, as a representative. She said she is always looking for ways to be more efficient.

The 2018-2019 winter brought more snow to Kansas City than many seasons in recent memory. McIntyre called the winter a “challenge” for her department. She said one obstacle was how the big snow storms seemed to hit on weekends, which forced her already short-staffed crew to work extra hours time after time.

“We were really pushing and wearing out staff and equipment both,” McIntyre said. “There are two parts to it: the manpower equipment and the physical equipment. Both were getting hit hard and worn out this winter.”

When it comes to the future of snow plowing, APWA Executive Director Scott Grayson said companies are experimenting with self-driving snow plows, but he admitted there are some kinks to work out.

“A lot of the autonomous vehicles need to see the striping of roads. When there is fog, snow, ice, it makes it a lot more challenging,” Grayson said.

McIntyre said a benefit of collaborating with APWA is the chance to network with other cities and public works departments. This year, McIntyre traveled to D.C. to meet with other large cities. And this winter, Kansas City began using “Thump Pads” to temporarily fill potholes. McIntyre said the department got the idea from APWA.