Your ideas for better snow removal

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As part of the MPR News feature “Today’s Question” we asked, “What could your city do better in removing snow?” Despite snow problems that persist for drivers and pedestrians almost three full days after the last flake fell, many people who’ve responded so far seem rather satisfied:

“All things considered, I think Minneapolis is doing a pretty good job. They’re dealing with an enormous volume of snow & there aren’t easy answers for where to put it all. The idea of calling the 2nd snow emergency was a good one – make streets somewhat passable during round 1 & go back and clean up for round 2.” (bsimon via MPRnews.org)

“Hey, it’s MN. It was a BIG storm. The cities are doing as much as they can with all the snow…This isn’t an earthquake, hurricane or tornado that does lots of property damage too (ok except the Dome:) so be patient, helpful to others, and don’t use too many brain cells complaining.” (Cynthia via Facebook)

There were plenty of complaints, of course, and lots of ideas about how to better remove snow. Several people suggested a move that would likely be unpopular with most: New taxes.

“Pretty simple. Raise our taxes and buy more snow plows (I live in St. Paul, and yes, I want my taxes raised). Anyone who doesn’t like taxes has no right to complain when government falls short of their expectations. We can’t have our snow and eat it too.” (Al via Facebook)

Some other ideas gleaned from your comments:

-Plows give one pass to every street in the first 24 hours after snow stops

-Cities should communicate better, letting residents know exactly when the plow is coming

-Empower small, private snow removal contractors to help with side streets

-Copy Bismarck, ND, which uses a plow mechanism that prevents pushing snow in front of driveways (unverified)

-Plow sidewalks with golf cart-type vehicles

-Use “zambonis in reverse” (snow melting machines)

-Plow from curb to curb downtown, and clear all downtown sidewalks

-Cities should plow alleys

-Employers should give everyone time off for shoveling

-Strategic deployment of flamethrowers

Final thought from Jim via Facebook:

“I know it’s a lot to ask, probably practically impossible, and will come off as so much whining in light of people whose roads don’t get cleared at all, but here’s mine: Little is more disheartening than spending hours shoveling your gigantic driveway, finishing up, then finally collapsing into bed exhausted…only to discover as you try to leave for work the next morning that the bloody plow came by, and created a waist-deep ice dam at the street line overnight. OH, the profanity.”

Add your own ideas here, or via Facebook.

  • Tyler

    My idea: anyone that drives an SUV or a truck must mount a plow on it, and leave it on all winter. Then we’d only need City/County trucks for salt work.

  • robert.moffitt@lungmn.org

    Tear down vacant homes to make room for small, grass covered lots which could be play and picnic areas in the summer, and cleared for off-srteet snow emergency parking as needed. The car is still within walking distance of your home, but off the streets.

    Lots of vacant homes in the core cities these days…

  • Bob

    Regarding the suggestion of private snow removal (which presumably means people with pickup trucks, rather than proper snowplows and graders): I never thought they did as good a job as the city plows. Trucks just don’t have the power that plows do. They can’t scrape down to pavement as well, and don’t throw the snow to the side as well as their larger cousins. I’d rather wait a bit longer after a snowstorm to have the job done right than have a gradual buildup of packed snow and ice on the road that smaller trucks just can’t scrape off.

    As for the snow emergency process, I don’t understand the necessity. In Duluth, where I grew up, there was weekly alternate side parking on most roads (others just have no overnight parking so they can plow at night). After a snowstorm, the plows come and do most of the street. You dig out your own car and wait for next week, when they come through and clean up the other side of the street. Of course, a lot of streets in Minneapolis were designed to have parking on both sides, so we’d lose a lot of parking if we switched to this system for residential streets.

  • Alison

    My idea: patience. Take advantage of the opportunity to slow down your life for a day or two.

  • John P.

    Two Words: Global Warming

  • Shawn

    I don’t see how anyone can forget this now… When they cut the funding to civil services, both Minneapolis and St Paul terminated about 50 plowing jobs out of 125 or so each. There is no wonder that it’s taking longer complete the job.

    I think that the Mayor’s of both towns streets should always be the last to be plowed. :) In all reality, we need a return to pre-Ventura tax policies. We haven’t been fiscally sound since before we elected that goon.

  • Joanna

    Shawn’s right; you get what you pay for. When we aren’t willing to collectively pay for the services, we suffer the consequences. Those who suffer the most are usually those who can’t afford to hire someone else to do it, who are too old, too sick, too young, too busy working two jobs, to do it themselves. I saw a man in a wheelchair riding in the street today; how was he supposed to use the sidewalk?

  • Drew

    Block by block geothermal heating supplanting home heating, and integrated in the road design as a snow melt system. Heat would only be delivered to the road if hydrostatic thermostats were triggered (you need to have moisture in the presence of freezing temperatures). Snow is roughly 10:1 of water, so our 17″ snowfall would be approximately 1.7″ of rain. We can handle that without re-engineering storm drain system. Lower CO2 emissions by lowering high energy demand systems installed in each house. Reduce amount of snow mounding, which would reduce amount of Spring snow melt flooding. Costs of installation of system would be off-set by savings in home heating costs.

  • Sara

    If NORAD can track Santa, there has to be a way for us to see where the plows are and, ideally, when they’ll be getting to our block.

  • Jack

    How about getting the snow emergency routes plowed curb to curb? On Broadway this morning, it was 1.5 lanes west bound in Northeast Mpls which translated to one lane for driving. Throw in a stall and a minor fender bender involving a school bus, it took 15 minutes to go three blocks. The major feeder streets were backed up for blocks.

    Considering that both the Lowry and the Plymouth Ave. bridges are both closed, funneling more traffic across the Broadway bridge, I would have expected better plowing in the area.

    My suburb had the streets initially plowed during the storm on Saturday (just one pass down the middle). They were plowed curb to curb by Sunday morning. Street parking is not allowed during snowfalls, allowing this to occur. Granted we don’t have high density housing in most neighborhoods so off-street parking is less of a problem.

    I’ll gladly pay the higher properties that my suburb assesses to get great service.

  • Jack

    Make that property taxes not properties.

  • Andrew

    “Pretty simple. Raise our taxes and buy more snow plows (I live in St. Paul, and yes, I want my taxes raised). Anyone who doesn’t like taxes has no right to complain when government falls short of their expectations. We can’t have our snow and eat it too.”

    – Really? How about redirecting our tax money to buy more snow plows instead of raising taxes. People with comments like these really take the mystery out of why we live under one of the highest taxed states in the nation. And yes, life long resident of the East side of St. Paul.

  • D

    Why not put those truckloads of removed snow into the trash compactors and stack the blocks where they will melt where the water is needed later?