Frequently Asked Questions

Passable Roads


  • What does “Passable” mean?
    The City of Columbia defines streets as passable when they meet the following conditions: Although a street may still be snow packed, at least one travel lane is accessible for a front wheel drive vehicle at driving speeds well below the normal posted speed limits. Your vehicle’s condition and your driving skills also determine your ability to navigate roads defined as passable. (Examples of passable roads)

Warming Centers

  • What is a Warming Center?
    Warming and Cooling Centers are available to the general public during normal business hours of City offices. The public is allowed access to public areas, such as lobbies, restrooms, drinking fountains, etc. There are also several other locations across Columbia that offer shelter. (Official Shelters provide sleeping accommodations and may or may not include meals. ) An interactive map and list of locations is available online at Warming & Cooling Centers and Official Shelter Locations.


Trash and Recycling Collection

  • If Public Works is plowing streets, who will pick up my trash?
    Updated trash schedules are on the website of the City of Columbia’s Solid Waste Utility, a division of City of Columbia Utilities (not Public Works).  You may also call the City Contact Center at 573.874.2489.
  • Will my trash and recycling be picked up during a snow event?
    Yes, unless the event is severe enough that all non-essential operations are suspended by the City.  More information, including an app you can download, is available  at Trash Collection During Snow Storms

Power – Electricity

  • My power is out. Who do I call?
    Two electric utilities provide service to customers inside and outside of Columbia. Both agencies have numbers you can call as well as outage maps you can view. For outages and service issues, you should contact the provider to whom you pay your bill.

Columbia Water & Light

Outage telephone number : 573.875.2555

opens in a new windowElectric outage map: View reported outages in Columbia Utility’s service area

opens in a new windowElectric Service Coverage Map: View a map which shows who provides your electric service

Boone Electric Coop

Outage telephone number: 573.449.4181

opens in a new windowElectric outage map: View reported outages in Boone Electric service area

Transit and Airport Operations

Snow Plowing Equipment


  • How many snow plows does the City of Columbia operate?
    During the winter months, Columbia Public Works re-purposes its equipment by adding snow plows and salt spreaders. Public Works uses more than 40 pieces of equipment for snow plowing operations and of those, 35 vehicles are equipped with a plows and salt spreaders.  Snow Fleet information.
  • Does the City of Columbia use private contractors?
    Sometimes. The City may use a private contractor if the conditions warrant. Normally, private contractors are used to remove snow off of downtown streets when the snow must be hauled away during plowing operations. The contractor the city uses has a term and supply contract on file with the city of Columbia and has gone through a competitive bid process.

Snow Routes / No Parking


  • Is parking  allowed on snow routes?
    Parking is allowed on snow routes until snow accumulates to 2 inches or greater. When that occurs, vehicles must be moved off of the snow routes (into driveways, non priority streets, etc). Once the snowfall has accumulated two inches or greater and vehicles are moved, they should remain off of priority routes until the city sends notifications that parking may resume on snow routes. Please note the fine for parking on a snow route is $100.  Additional fee’s could include towing and storage. The city of Columbia does not operate tow services. Towing prices and storage fee’s are set by the individual towing companies.
  • Does the City notify people when the snow is greater than 2 inches and snow routes will be enforced?
    Yes,  alerts sent via the Nixle notification system, a press release, and social media posting are issued when snow depths are forecast or approach 2 inches. You may sign up to receive Nixle notifications via either email or SMS messages via cell phones. You can sign up for the notifications at – opens in a new .
    (Regardless of notification, however, parking ordinances will be enforced.)
  • Does the City notify people when they can again park on snow routes after an event?
    Yes, a Nixle alert, press release, and social media posting will be sent when parking is again allowed on snow routes after a snow event.
  • What happens if I don’t move my vehicle from a priority snow route when the snow depth is 2 inches or greater?
    City ordinance opens in a new window14-304 designates snow routes as no parking areas when snow accumulates 2 inches or more. The penalty is a citation and possibly the vehicle could be towed at the owners expense. The fine is $100 with additional towing and storage fee’s possible.
  • What if I don’t have a driveway and have always parked on the street? Will I be ticketed and towed if the snow accumulates over two inches?
    Possibly. We understand and empathize with our customers who do not have driveway or parking lot access. For the public good, clearing priority routes must take precedence. We encourage our customers to find side streets or other parking options.
  • I moved my car off of the priority route and the plows have finished the street. Can I park on the street now?
    Yes. Columbia Public Works will issue an alert that priority snow routes have been plowed and treated and that it is okay to again park on the priority routes. Remember, should another snow fall accumulate to an additional two inches, vehicles must again be moved off of the priority routes. Thanks for moving your vehicle and helping us clear Columbia streets!
  • My street is not a priority route. Do I need to move my vehicle?
    No. But the more vehicles which are moved off of streets, the more efficiently we can plow and treat the streets. We encourage everyone to move vehicles off of streets when there is snow fall until the plows have come through.
  • How many tow trucks does the City use during a snow event?
    The City of Columbia uses private contractors and does not operate tow services or an impound lot. Towing prices and storage fees are set by individual towing companies.



  • Who is responsible for the sidewalk in front of my home?
    The property owner is responsible for clearing snow and ice from the sidewalk. City ordinance 24-12 governs snow removal from sidewalks. Keeping your sidewalks clear of snow and ice is the neighborly thing to do. At some point in the day, we’re all pedestrians. Neighbors walking to a transit or school bus stop, out walking their pets, exercising, or just enjoying a walk depend on sidewalks which are clear and free from fall hazards.
  • I am elderly or have a condition which makes it difficult or impossible to shovel my sidewalk. Is there agencies who can assist me? 
    Yes. There are agencies such as Services for Independent Living (SIL) that can assist the elderly with snow shoveling. For more information, contact the Services for Independent Living at (573) 874-1646.
  • I rent. Am I responsible or is the landlord responsible for cleaning the sidewalk?
    You will need to contact your landlord and/or refer to your lease agreement to determine who is responsible for snow removal on your sidewalks.
  • I just cleared my sidewalks and now the plow truck has pushed snow back onto the sidewalk. Is it now the City’s responsibility to clear the sidewalk of snow they pushed onto it?
    We understand how you feel. Sometimes, depending on how close the sidewalk is to the road, how much snow we have received, and a number of other factors, plows will push snow onto sidewalks. Please know were are very sorry when that happens. However, the property owner is still responsible for clearing their sidewalk.
  • Does the City clear all of their sidewalks at City buildings, parks, trails and along roads, etc?
    The City of Columbia makes every effort to clear sidewalks around city buildings, parks, trails, transit stops and along city properties. 



  • I normally park on the road during snow events because my driveway is very steep. If I park on a designated snow priority route and the snow is greater than two inches, will I be issued a citation and towed? 
    Possibly. We understand and empathize with anyone who’s driveways have a steep incline or decline. But for the public good, clearing priority routes must take precedence. We encourage everyone to find side streets or other parking options.
  • I just spent two hours clearing my driveway. I watched out of my window as the plow truck came by and pushed snow back in front of my drive. Who’s going to clear that?
    We do apologize when that happens. We do what we can to prevent it; however, there are only so many places to push the snow, especially when we get a significant snowfall. With that said, here are a few tips that will help minimize the amount of snow pushed into driveways, if any:

    • As your looking at the street from your driveway, shovel the snow to the right side as much as possible. This reduces the amount of snow plows push back into or in front of the driveway.
      If possible, wait until the plow has gone by before shoveling the last 4-5 feet of the driveway
    • When shoveling the last 4-5 feet of the driveway, try to place the shoveled snow away from the street (again, to the right side of the driveway).

Where to pl;ace snow on a Cul-de-sac

Culs-de-sac (Dead End Streets)


  • The plow truck just pushes snow in front of my driveway and in front of my mailbox. Why?
    Dead ends, or cul-de-sacs, present one of the biggest challenges to our plow drivers. In the bulb of the cul-de-sac, there are very few places to push the snow without blocking driveways, mailboxes, fire hydrants, and storm drain inlets. We do the very best we can and appreciate your understanding.
  • Why does it take longer to plow dead end streets?
    It often can take 15-20 minutes per cul-de-sac to clear the snow. And there are 1,132 cul-de-sacs in Columbia. We try to get to everyone as quickly as possible. Sometimes, we may be using special equipment, such as a front end loader or single axle pick-up truck, to clear the snow from cul-de-sacs. Dual axle heavy plows can’t maneuver as well as front end loaders and can’t place the snow as accurately either. We’ll be there with the right equipment as soon as possible – thanks for your patience.

City of Columbia Public Works                                            
Call: 573.874.2489   /   Email: