February 23, 2013 - 12:00 AM

County, city crews work to clear snowy roads

While many Allen Countians spent Thursday relaxing in the comfort of home, some braved the elements to provide safer roads for those who had to travel.
Public Works Director Bill King gave the Register an inside look of what it takes to clear the roads of snow and ice.
“We’ve seen a little bit of it all,” King said as his truck slowly barreled along old Highway 169. “We have some snow, ice and sleet.”
A large winter storm moved through southeast Kansas early Thursday, dumping several inches of snow across the area. County crews began working at around 4:30 a.m.
To effectively clear roads during a winter storm, King said crews need a significant break in the weather to make their efforts worthwhile.
“There are some areas that we hit, and you can’t even tell a few minutes later,” he said.
The radio began to chatter in his truck — “we can’t hardly tell where we’ve plowed,” a plow operated reported.
During some of the major points in the storm, snow was accumulating at about one inch an hour. Both city and county crews were hard at work battling the dangerous road conditions.
Curt Drake, a snowplow operator, had been out since the storm began. A Moran native, Drake has been working with the county for four years. He said he can recall much worse storms than this week’s, but still, it had a substantial effect on travel conditions.
The plow on his truck is 12 to 13 feet long, he said, and throws a wave of snow to the side as he passes down the road. He said crews need to be careful, because the snow being thrown can take out mail boxes and bury parked cars.
There had already been one mailbox casualty reported during the storm.
“One of my guys took out my own mailbox,” King said. “That’s the last time he plows by my house.”
He said crews are on-call to repair any mailboxes that are damaged by the plows, and the county will make sure they are in working order as soon as possible.
King’s truck drove along North State Street, passing through Iola and moving on toward the country. One of the motor graders, operated by county employee Donna LaRue, whizzed by, shooting snow off of the road.
He said the motor graders are slower at clearing roads, but the close profile they keep to the road allows for more efficient snow removal on paved asphalt.
King said he used to operate a snowplow before he moved from Missouri, and he enjoyed it. But, now he said he worries about the cost to the county. The overtime for his workers, the equipment costs and man-hours all tend to add up very quickly.
“It’s like throwing money out the window, it can be depressing,” he said.
As long as the roads are safer for drivers in the county, he said it is all worth it.
The radio chattered with updates from his employees, checking in and reporting cleared roads across Allen County.
“We’ve got really good crews,” King said. “They know exactly what to do and exactly what to look for.”

November 18, 2014
February 4, 2014
February 20, 2013
March 22, 2010