Snow Removal Process

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City snow routes are divided into two overlapping systems. The City’s primary streets form the first system and receive a higher level of service as they carry major traffic throughout the City and provide the interconnection of neighborhoods. Main Street, North Oak Trafficway, Holmes Street, Wornall Road and Barry Road are examples of primary streets. As such, they are plowed from curb-to-curb and receive salt throughout the entire system as crews working 12-hour shifts can plow 24 hours each day to keep the system open.

The second system is focused on residential snow routes that tend to be in neighborhoods and carry local traffic. These streets are provided a passable lane down the middle of the street and are salted on hills, curves and intersections. Multiple passes widen out the lane. Crews assigned to this system use smaller trucks that can get in and out of tight situations and typically plow snow from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day as they work to keep streets passable for motorists to reach primary and arterial streets. In the event of severe snow, cul-de-sacs and dead ends will be plowed after arterial, collector and through residential streets. This ensures that our crews will be able to use their resources most effectively.

In total, the area to be plowed equates to approximately 6,400 lane miles of pavement. This is equivalent to a two-lane road from Boston to San Diego.

While snow removal is coordinated by the Public Works Department, it is a joint effort that also includes the Parks and Recreation and Water Services departments. The Aviation Department handles snow removal at the Kansas City International Airport and Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport.

In the event of severe snow, the City Manager may declare a Phase 1 or Phase 2 snow emergency (see ice and snow policy). Phase 1 identifies a driving emergency, in which driving is prohibited for vehicles without snow tires or tire chains. Phase 2 identifies a parking emergency, during which any vehicle parked on a snow route must be removed within two hours. Citations can be issued to motorists who do not heed emergency conditions.

When it snows, residents may be asked to park vehicles off-street when snow depths exceed two inches. Parking cars off-street greatly helps plows to better remove snow, especially in cul-de-sacs and dead end streets. If a vehicle must park on-street, the following parking practice is being requested:

  • On streets that run north/south, park vehicles on the west side of the street.
  • On streets that run east/west, park vehicles on the north side of the street.

Residents are asked to avoid calling the 311 to report slick or missed streets until at least 36 hours after snow has stopped falling. This allows snow removal crews adequate time to complete multiple passes on all of their assigned snow routes.

The City has installed GPS tracking systems that capture and report activity for City snow plows throughout the City in real-time. The data can be viewed on the GPS snow plow map.