KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Last year leaders changed the way Kansas City handled snow removal, and they say they are seeing and hearing results.
Prior to the announcement, people living in some Kansas City neighborhoods complained for years about having to wait days, and sometimes weeks, to get snow and ice removed from their neighborhood streets. Others claimed they were always the last areas of the city to be plowed.
City Manager Brian Platt, Mayor Quinton Lucas, and members of the city council decided they needed to do something to change that.
Those changes included moving drivers from trash duty to plow duty to put more plows on the street following a storm. They also decided that plows should operate 24 hours a day and plow from curb to curb on residential streets. The city also hired more employees and bought dozens of additional plows.
The plows are equipped with trackers that allow people to go to a website to see which streets have been plowed, and which still need attention. The city also allows people to call 311 and talk to an employee to report issues, including streets that may have been missed or other dangerous areas that need to be plowed again.
Thursday afternoon Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said there were more than 300-crews working 13-hour shifts to remove snow, even though the majority of the snow would need to be removed after the storm moved out of the area later in the day.
“You are seeing different responses in different areas in Kansas City. We were able to pretreat our roads prior to the storm, which is helping the response,” Lucas said.
For the first storm of the year, from Jan. 1 through Jan. 9, the city said it received 523 requests to 311 about snow and ice.
For the storm earlier this month, from Feb. 3 through Feb. 10, the city received 159 requests concerning snow and ice removal.
A city spokesperson said that it’s difficult to compare snow storms because each one is different, but said there was a significant decline in calls. The city said it is taking that as a good sign that the changes made are better serving residents.
“I think we’ve seen real improvements this year. But this storm, of course, is a real challenge. We’re getting a lot of snow throughout the area, but we’ll make sure we’re probably out with staff throughout the weekend to make sure that we’re continuing to clear the snow,” Lucas said Thursday.
While there are still complaints, the public works department said it is also hearing a lot of complements about the new process.
“I’ve lived here 29 years. The road clearing in my neighborhood last Friday/Saturday was the best I have ever experienced. Thank you very much,” one citizen told a 311 operator on Jan. 18.