Now that Missoula has had a taste of real winter driving conditions, Brian Hensel, City of Missoula Deputy Public Works Director for Public Works and Mobility – Streets spoke to KGVO News and provided a brief primer on the city’s snow removal policy.

“The city of Missoula utilizes a priority snow plan which is available on our website,” began Hensel. “What it does is it allows us to focus limited resources in as efficient a way as possible where when we start snow plowing, we will focus on streets with the most heavy traffic volumes. For example, we plow Reserve, Brooks, Higgins, Russell and South Avenue.”

Hensel said once the ‘1’s’ are finished, the snowplows move to the next priority.

“Then we'll move on to priority twos, which are streets that still have a large amount of traffic volume but less than the main routes and those are twos and bus routes, or streets with steep grades,” he said. “As we move on through the snow event, we go from ones to twos, and then we'll start in on the threes, which are typically streets more located in neighborhoods that don't have as much traffic volume, but may have some slope to them, or maybe some precarious turns and corners, and we will continue with those until we're done.”

Hensel explained that during a prolonged heavy snow event that the plows sometimes have to return to the ‘1’s’ and ‘2’s’ and plow them again if necessary, however, he said there are smaller trucks that are targeting many of the neighborhood and side streets.

“We have five pickup plows that only work Monday through Friday and we call those our residential plows,” he said. “Those operators can go right directly onto local streets on the low volume neighborhoods, and they can start plowing on those lower volume streets as soon as it starts snowing, and they don't have to concern themselves with the priority streets.”

Hensel asked Missoula residents to be realistic about snow removal in a city with many residential neighborhoods.

“When we have those major snow events in the city, we obviously cannot get every square inch of asphalt sanded plowed and de-iced immediately upon the start of the snow,” he said. “We're trying to efficiently allocate our plows and our and our crew as quickly and safely as possible, but there are going to be areas that are slick. And so I always try to ask the public just modify your driving conditions. Slow down, and if you can get studded snow tires, that's great. Use chains when you need to, but just exercise an extreme amount of additional care when you're driving.”

Hensel also asked KGVO to remind home and business owners to refrain from plowing or shoveling sidewalk and driveway snow into the street, especially if they have just been plowed, as it creates a traffic hazard for drivers.

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