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FF12: Emails highlight concern about city salt shortage

By Michael Schwanke, mschwanke@kwch.com
Published On: Mar 11 2014 05:50:40 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 11 2014 06:15:31 PM CDT
WICHITA, Kan. -

It may feel like spring this week, but it wasn't long ago Wichita city streets were a mess.  A snow storm, a week of extreme cold and a lack of road salt created the perfect storm for drivers and road crews.

Documents obtained by FactFinder 12 back up the city's salt supply concern.  The city says there were about 600 emails generated by our request.  The request only asked for emails in a two week period between Wichita Deputy Public Works Director Joe Pajor and Public Works Director Alan King regarding the storm.  Eyewitness News did not receive all the emails due to personnel issues, attorney-client privilege, and time constraints.

The emails highlight the city's concern about lack of salt going into the storm.  A previous storm and inability to get more orders reduced the city's salt inventory to about 32 percent.

Emails also warned the streets may "look unplowed due to extent and intensity" of the snow fall and later stated the snow fell at a rate that "exceeded plowing capacity."

As we've reported before, the emails also reveal lessons learned which the city has made public.

In the future, the city said it will look at alternative salt delivery options.  City officials say during the next storm, city crews will be able to pick up orders instead of waiting for deliveries.

The city will also look at hiring private contractors to help clear streets in the future and improve communication with the public during storms.

Although the many drivers criticized the city for its efforts, the emails also show a positive response from other drivers who felt the city did a good job.

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