|Joplin Maintenance Worker Jacob McDonald (left) and Joplin Senior Maintenance Worker Richard Persinger discuss installation of a salt spreader on a truck ahead of anticipated snowfall the weekend of Nov. 15. (Photo/David Mitchell)
Weekend snowfall in the Southwest District on Nov. 15 and 16 was seen as a good test of the district’s readiness for winter operations.
Saturday’s expected snowfall didn’t materialize, but another system moved across the district on Sunday leaving behind anywhere from a dusting in southern counties to as much as three to four inches in the north.
Crews were in the shop and ready to go Saturday ahead of the predicted winter weather. District Maintenance Engineer Michael Middleton said that was a benefit because it gave us another training opportunity for some of our new drivers.
Approximately 285 trucks and 500 drivers were involved in the effort to clear the district’s highways of snow.
All routes in the district were pronounced clear within three hours after the snow stopped falling.
Johnny Mathews, northern area maintenance superintendent, said everything went well, especially for the first snow of the season.
“Our biggest problem was traffic didn’t slow down as it should have,” he said. “We had lots of traffic going to Kansas City for the Chiefs football game.”
There were some slide-offs and crashes along I-44 in the Mount Vernon and Marshfield areas, but Middleton said they were cleared up quickly. He said MoDOT’s emergency response personnel reacted well, as did emergency operations center call-takers who handled more than 125 calls over the weekend.
“I was pleased with how we did in the first storm,” Middleton said.
Middleton was especially pleased that no MoDOT vehicles were involved in any crashes and no employees were injured on the job.
“It won’t be our worst storm,” he said, “but it gives us confidence to deal with the next one.”