TOPEKA (KSNT) – With the first snow of the season, Topeka road crews will be hard at work. But that won’t include snow plows on neighborhood streets.
“It takes us between, somewhere between 36 and 48 hours to clear all of our primary and secondary routes,” says Director of Street Maintenance for Topeka, Ron Raines.
Unless the snow is higher than 6 inches, and it is approved by the city, those routes do not include plowing neighborhoods.
“If we see an event like that, it’s two, three days before we can ever get in to the residential area to do anything,” says Raines.
The narrowness of residential neighborhoods take twice as long to plow as normal streets.
“It sounds really unfair, especially for those who are elderly and disabled and already have problems getting out anyways,” says Topeka resident, Andy Acree.
“Our budgets are limited. Our council knows that. Our mayor and our city manager knows that,” says Raines.
A financial problem, some community members say should be addressed.
“It seems like that would be the best way to serve your constituents. To make sure they can get out of their house!” says Acree.
To put the costs in perspective- remember that big snowfall last February?
“We spent about 350,000 dollars dealing with it. By, what I’ve learned, in Overland Park they spent about a million dollars.”
And that was just for one snowfall.
“In that major snowfall last February, we had about 50 people working in. Overland park has about 170 people assigned to that.”
Overland Park has around the same road mileage as Topeka, but dedicates more money to snow removal. Raines says the Topeka department does what it can with the tools and money they have.
“More funding, higher level of service. I know folks wont like to hear that, but that’s the truth of it,” says Raines.
Raines says that to cut their plow times in half, they would need about a dozen more people and an equal number of plows. However, that would cost more than a quarter of a million dollars.