A state lawmaker from eastern Missouri is criticizing what he calls the state Department of Transportation’s (MoDOT’s) incompetence, for its handling of the Veterans Day winter storm.

State Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, speaks on the Missouri House floor on May 17, 2019 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

State Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, says his vehicle struck black ice in St. Charles County during the storm and that he had to use his emergency brake to stop.

Schroer says he almost crashed and saw another vehicle flip over on I-70 in Lake St. Louis.

He wants MoDOT to examine how other states handle snow, including the chemicals they’re using. Schroer says the agency wasn’t ready for the storm.

“Is what we (Missouri) are doing to prepare in these types of situations, in these snowstorms, these ice storms, is that adequate,” Schroer asks. “Is that enough? Look to other states, see what they’re doing.”

Schroer says it took him more than 90 minutes to get home that evening, a trip that normally takes 15 minutes.

“It’s just ridiculous to me because now I have two young girls that I had to go get (that evening) and slid in the black ice and I’m trying to get them home,” says Schroer.

There were hundreds of crashes across the state during the Veterans Day winter storm. One woman who was stuck by a vehicle in St. Charles County, after the “St. Louis Post-Dispatch” reports her car had problems in the weather. And state troopers say a 61-year-old man from Chilhowee died when he lost control of his vehicle on an ice-covered road and overturned near western Missouri’s Centerview.

As for MoDOT, they tell Missourinet that although forecasts said it would end midday on Veterans Day, an additional wave of snow came through that afternoon after the first snow melted and washed off the salt. They say their trucks were treating roads all day. They also note their trucks were blocked by significant crashes that day on I-70 in Schroer’s St. Charles County district.

MoDOT also says safety is their top priority and that they have hundreds of dedicated employees who work hard to keep St. Louis-area roads safe during winter storms.

Schroer, who serves as the vice chairman of the House Special Committee on Government Oversight, tells Missourinet that if the scenario happens again, he’ll want MoDOT to testify before the committee.

MoDOT helds its annual winter operations drill on November 7, four days before the storm. They reacted to a simulated forecast of significant snow for the entire state and inspected every piece of equipment.

The agency spent more than $64 million on winter operations last year and used more than 180,000 tons of salt, 100,000 gallons of liquid calcium chloride and about 700,000 gallons of beet juice. MoDOT says that during an average winter, its employees plow about six million miles of snow and ice.

Here is the full statement from MoDOT’s St. Louis District office, in response to the Missourinet interview with Representative Schroer:

Thank you for reaching out to MoDOT following your interview with State Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, during which shared concerns with MoDOT’s response to last week’s winter storm.

Safety is our number 1 priority. MoDOT has hundreds of dedicated employees in St. Louis working hard to keep roads safe and passable. State employees were out all day Monday, November 11th, working the winter event including plowing and spreading salt. It is difficult to use salt in an effective way when storms start as rain/sleet and strike during times of heavy traffic volumes. The November 11th event had warm enough ground temperatures to melt all the snow that fell, washing off the salt that was applied early in the day. Although the weather forecasts said it would end midday, an additional wave of snow came around 2 p.m. after the first snow had melted and washed off the salt. When the winds brought a significant drop in temperature, all routes across St. Louis started freezing at the same time which coincided with the start of evening rush hour.

MoDOT’s trucks were treating roads all day. Winter events like Monday can present extreme challenges, especially when you have winter precipitation during rush hour. Specific to Representative Schroer’s area in St. Charles County, there were a couple significant crashes on I-70 and Rte 364 that MoDOT trucks were caught in. When MoDOT trucks are stuck in traffic, it limits our ability to continue treating roads and getting to all the state owned roads.

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