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County road crews do extra weekend duty to keep rural roads safe
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (March 2, 2009) — While many residents of Pulaski County’s western district have four-wheel drive pickups or sport utility vehicles and are used to driving on snowy rural roads, Eastern District Commissioner Bill Farnham said his workers face special problems because so many people live just outside the city limits of Waynesville or St. Robert and don’t always understand the dangers of winter roads.

Farnham said he tries hard to get roads cleared off when snow and ice conditions make travel treacherous.

“Saturday we had to respond to numerous calls of slippery hills and things of that nature where people were crashing and all that,” Farnham said. “We know we couldn’t really do anything until the snow had quit, so we made up a bunch of material and I did have some pre-treating, if you want to call it that, on Longview, Salina, and some of the big hills such as Ridge Creek subdivision, Timbers subdivision, Misty Mountain subdivision.”

Farnham said the biggest hill that causes the most problems in Pulaski County’s eastern district is Longview Hill, which runs from Highway 17 up a steep bluff to Shalom Mountain and Northern Heights Estates. However, other county asphalt roads with steep hills that have numerous houses also cause problems, including Salina and Stagecoach road in Hunter’s Point. Even roads off Texas Road can be a problem, he said.

“Those are the ones that get worked on first, the asphalt roads on the hills in the big subdivisions,” Farnham said. “Then we go to the steep gravel road hills and get them fixed, and then after we get that done we go back and start working everything else.”

Unlike earlier snowfalls, Farnham said most drivers were able to avoid getting stuck on Longview Road, but one driver went off into a steep ravine Saturday afternoon.

“Traffic was so tough on that hill it was hard for us to work it,” Farnham said. “People won’t let the road crews come out and do their job. We had a tractor-trailer that was jackknifed over in Salina, which is in the Hunter’s Point subdivision, and it blocked the road for maybe three or four hours before they could finally remove it because all the tow trucks were busy.”

Western District Commissioner Ricky Zweerink said he began work on his district’s roads about 3:30 p.m. Saturday and working until the evening on asphalt road. County gravel roads in the western district were bladed beginning about 7 a.m. and finished around 3:30 to 4 p.m., he said.

“To my knowledge everything is taken care of; what’s coming next is a little mud,” Zweerink said. “Right now we’re in pretty good shape.”

Both commissioners urged people to stay home during snowfall whenever possible.

“The biggest problem I saw was the people did not stay in and let the road people work. I saw a MoDOT truck caught in traffic on the interstate and he couldn’t do anything; he was out there trying to clean the roads and he was caught in that traffic jam,” Farnham said. “Like I say every time, everybody stay home unless it’s an emergency and let people get out and do their jobs and get the roads to where they’re safe.”

Farnham noted that under Missouri law, anyone who drives in conditions when windshield wipers are required needs to have their headlights on.

“I stopped to gas my truck up at Casey’s and when I went in to pay for my gasoline, they were getting phone calls left and right for their pizza business, for people to come in and pick up their pizzas and here the roads are as slippery as all get-out,” Farnham said. “But nobody got hurt and that’s the big thing.”

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