October 16, 2021

Mallory Herrmann
Staff Reporter

The city is changing the snowfall threshold for plowing residential streets to two inches, up from a one-inch snowfall. Primary and secondary streets will still be plowed when there is an inch or more of snow forecasted.

The public works department will continue to pretreat all streets, including residential streets, when the temperatures allow and to plow all streets when two inches or more is in the forecast.

The change, presented by Director of Public Works Michael Park, is intended to make the city more efficient in handling snow events.

“We’ve reemphasized the prioritization that primaries and secondaries have a higher level of service than our residential streets,” Park said.

Reviewing snowfall data from the past ten years or so, Park noted that Lee’s Summit’s average snow season runs from December to March – with 10 events per year and an average accumulation of 16 inches. But of the last 112 snow events in Lee’s Summit, 59 of them saw less than an inch of snow; only 10 had four inches or more.

Plowing residential strets when there is only an inch of snow is not always effective and can sometimes make it only more likely to compact snow into ice. The city hopes that changing the threshold will alleviate those issues – in addition to reducing wear and tear on equipment, reducing employee fatigue, improving efficiency and resource management, and aligning Lee’s Summit’s snow plan with peer cities.

Park compared the city’s snow plan with cities in the area, including Overland Park, Independence and Blue Springs. While there are variances among them, most have a 24/7 operation during snow events that includes pretreatment, plowing one-inch snows on primary and secondary streets and a 24- to 48-hour time goal. Most also have a two-inch threshold for plowing residential streets.

The city council did not take any formal action on the plan but praised the public works department for their hard work and for the high level of communication they shared with the community during last year’s snow season.

“Last year was really good, and we want to continue that. We want to sustain that level of communication,” Mayor Bill Baird said.

Mayor Pro Tem Beto Lopez and Councilmembers Trish Carlyle and Andrew Felker were absent from the Oct. 12 council meeting.