Snow removal

I Want Clear Streets Please

Last night the Kansas City metro area got what was supposed to be its first major snow storm of the season. At my house I think I might have gotten 3 inches total, so it wasn’t that big a deal. What I want to talk about today, is the lack of city services for clearing the snow, and the way people freak out when they have to drive on it. Or maybe I should say how people are just ill prepared and not thinking about how to drive on snow-covered streets, which as far as I concerned shouldn’t be covered at all.

I live at the intersection of 3 counties, 2 states, and 3 cities. My house is in Wyandotte county, less than half a mile from the state line, and less than half a mile from Johnson County Kansas. This morning when I first went out I thought OK the side streets are covered, no big deal they always are but by the time I get to the main roads things will be all cleared off. Well they weren’t. The two and a half mile to work on city streets was a giant frozen slush fest. It looked as though no prep work had been done, and none of the streets had been cleared. By 7:30, enough traffic had rolled over the streets, that the snow pack had turned into the equivalent of an icy slush, with areas by each traffic light frozen into black ice. both Wyandotte and Jackson county roads really looked like they were untouched by our city workers.

Johnson county Kansas on the other hand was perfectly clear. I got a call before I left for work form another driver who said that as soon as she crossed County Line road into Johnson County, the streets were completely clear. They had been scraped free of snow and ice. They were safe and easy to navigate, thanks to an efficient set of city, county, and state employees that worked through the night to make sure that the morning commute would be safe.

So I want to know what gives. I live in the county with the highest property taxes in the state. The county where the unified government is not operating in a deficit. Are you telling me that Kansas City Kansas, can’t clear the major streets in their city? 7th street, or Rainbow as it is named South of I-35 was pure soup. This is the main road that runs from downtown KCK to Shawnee Mission Parkway. South West Boulevard, another main thoroughfare was in the same state. As I drove in I kept thinking by the time I get across 39th street to Main, or Southwest Trafficway, those streets will have been scraped, but hell no. They were awful, and this isn’t even a major storm we had. Southwest Trafficway was so bad by Pen Valley college people were stuck spinning tires in both the center and right lanes causing a back up that for lack of a better term snowballed into   more cars getting stuck. Linwood, and Gilham were no better. The streets just sucked in the Kansas City area. I know I should be used to it by now. KC streets always suck when it comes to getting them cleared and safe to drive, but it just seems to me that it gets worse every year. This leads to the second half of this post.

OK just because you bought a 4 wheel drive truck or SUV doesn’t mean you A: know how to drive in the snow, and B: are any good at it. I saw so many idiots driving like the snow was no big deal. Spinning 4 tires instead of 2, weaving in and out of slow-moving traffic, with no regard for the safety of others on the road. Kansas City drivers in general are some of the worst I have ever experienced in the United States, but if you add a pinch of snow and some I kick ass cause I have 4 wheel drive to the mix it is a recipe for disaster. My favorite drive this morning was the guy in his all wheel drive Audi tailgating everyone on Southwest Trafficway weaving through traffic like he was the center of the universe and we his roadblocks to whatever was so important. Just before the 31th street intersection, he swung from the center lane to the left lane behind some guy in a huge Expedition. Giant SUV stopped short for the timid driver in front of him, and wham Audi kissed the Expeditions back bumper with its grill and hood. I’m sorry the guy deserved it. My second favorite experience was the guy in the delivery truck for “India Palace” backing down the street into oncoming traffic because he didn’t have snow tires and couldn’t make it up the slight hill from 39th street. He was forcing other drivers to get out of his way, as he backed down the road. He had a 4 wheel drive truck, but like said earlier, if you don’t know how to use it then you are no better than the rest of the people on the road.

So what is the point of all of this? I’m not sure. I’m probably just letting off some steam, after what should have been an easier drive to work this morning.

A Few Obsevations About the New House and Snow

The field in a blanket of white

The butterfly chair covered in snow on the back deckToday was the first snow day of the season here in KC. It was also the first snow day for me in the new house, and I have a couple of observations I'd like to talk about.

First, I’d like to say that at 6:00 AM when I was walking the dogs, it was really, really nice. The house seemed to float above this white plane, sitting silently above the ground standing out against the dark dawn sky. Standing in the middle of the field to the South of the house, the world was silenced by the muffling snow fall and the inch or so we had on the ground. The dogs were in heaven, running around like crazed puppies making the whole experience in the new neighborhood feel great. I have to say I am kind of looking forward to what it will be like when we actually get a significant snow fall this season. And with that, I turn to observation number two.

OK, I’m not sure what the Studio 804 people were thinking when they designed the house. Our entry is a 5 degree ramp that sits on the North side of the house. There is no hand railing, and there are no steps. Just a long gentle sloping ramp that runs 25 feet to the front door. The wood runs lengthwise down the entire surface. When the ramp is wet, it can be slick, when it is covered with snow or frost it can be treacherous. Since the ramp is on the North side of the home it is in the shade, 365 days a year. Seriously, every single day. It never sees direct sunlight, and because of this there is no way for the snow to melt. Because there is no hand rail, you have nothing to hang on to when you try and walk down the thing, so let me just say that this morning when I was walking out to the garage to head to work, I could have used the ramp as a ski jump.

The entry ramp, post brooming in an attempt to clear it.

The issue is this, chemical snow melt is bad for the environment and eats the wood. Salt is no better, and sand is the kind of thing that sticks to your shoes and will destroy the bamboo flooring. I would shovel, but I don’t want to thrash the wood decking, and using a broom on wet snow pack is well… rather futile. So I am now thinking about how I am going to tackle this problem later in the season, when we get our annual Kansas City ice storm, followed by an 8 inch snow.

I am holding comments on the Stabiligrid driveway for now. This morning it was a sloppy muddy mess, but it was still drivable. I am wondering how I am going to shovel it off though? At least a large portion of it gets direct sunlight exposure so much of it will melt off. Or so I hope.

Anyway, enough complaining, the snow has put me into the holiday spirit, or at least jump started my holiday mood. And while I am not a huge fan of cold weather, I have to say the field and woods that surround the house looked really nice covered in a thin blanket of white this morning. One of my favorite things was when I walked around the house and the light from the 4 windows created these perfect warm squares on the white ground in the dark morning light. It just looked amazing.