Transportation What could your city do better in removing snow? Eric Ringham December 14, 2010, 5:00 AM Dec 14, 2010 35 comments Snowplows have been struggling to cope with the effects of the fifth worst winter storm on record in the Twin Cities. Today’s Question: What could your city do better in removing snow? ‹ Older How does the severity of Minnesota winters affect your quality of life? Newer › What are you doing to provide for your long-term care? Browse by category Education Health Economy Politics/Government Culture Religion/Ethics Science/Technology Transportation Race/Gender Environment/Energy Security International affairs Immigration Media Military About the blogger Eric Ringham firstname.lastname@example.org Adam Emanoff Not clear off major interstates during evening rush hour. Allow, via certification or training, small snow removal businesses to help with removal of side streets. Maybe during snow emergency only. Miles Porter In Bismarck, ND, the snow plows have a gate mechanism that prevents the plows from pushing huge ridges of snow in front of driveways. THAT would be a welcome change. I am all in favor of plowing the streets, but if an emergency vehicle is effectively blocked from getting in a person’s driveway, what is the point? Adding the mechanisms to plows has to be cheaper than dealing with a huge lawsuit as a result of an emergency vehicle being prevented from getting up someone’s driveway! Deborah Those that voted for no new taxes should not complain at all. Taxes cover, among many other things, snow removal. Funds to individual cites, under Pawlenty’s polices, have been cut drastically over the last 8 years. From our schools, maintenance of our roads, bridges (prior to receiving Fed dollars), and yes….snow removal, are in dismal shape. You get what you pay for, or don’t. DMOX How about REMOVE the snow, instead of throwing it back onto my driveway & sidewalk when you plow it. I know that getting the streets back to passable is priority, but follow that up with removal. I live on a snow emergency route, & the wall they create in front of my house & driveway is impassable, let alone completely useless for the disabled that use the bus stop on the corner for transportation. I see they don’t have a problem removing the snow from shopping mall parking lots, hmmm….maybe its time to take a page from those businesses & create a snow REMOVAL system for the city, instead of just a snow plowing plan. Pay for it? I’m happy to chip in another half a percent in sales tax if it means putting more people to work during the winter. I’d even chip in a whole penny – because it would mean millions and millions in the grand scheme of things, and so long as we mandate it goes to this service, I see nothing wrong with it. J I’ll agree with Deb, and add, perhaps, plow to the curb? I was driving down Fairview and the snow had to extend at least 8 feet into the road … how did I know? There are parking meters sticking out of the snow. Jeff in St. Paul The public works folks in St. Paul work very hard and I really appreciate their effort. People need to be patient and respectful if we’re going to demand less government but MORE service. Still, I sure wish the plows wouldn’t knock over all the garbage cans on my street when they finally do come by. There’s trash everywhere now. *sigh* Gary F Living in Saint Paul for the last 19 years I’ve seen a lot. With this current snow, I’m going to give them a pass. But it still baffles me that the two block section of Niles Avenue between Warwick and Snelling sometimes doesn’t get plowed! It’s right by Expo School. What baffles me are the idiots who don’t move their cars for snow emergency! It’s just not fair for all the people who go through the effort to move their car. What really beefs me is that in my area of Highland Park, they don’t tow those idiots because it is too far away from the impound lot, thus not profitable for the towing companies. With TV, radio, text messaging, Facebook, and the internet, there is NO REASON for anyone to play dumb on snow emergency days! Rose Benchmark what other snow cities do and their best practices such as: 1) sidewalk snow plows – golf cart type vehicles with plows on the front to clear major intersections and sidewalks 2) snow melting machines – zambonis in reverse 3) pick up or divert the street snow plows near driveway entrances and bus stops Not plow the same street 4 times. My cross street (a boulevard) has been plowed many times and yet the side streets have not yet been plowed. Amy I live in South St. Paul and work in St. Paul. South St. Paul does a pretty good job with snow plowing. My only complaint is the giant mounds of snow at the intersections that completely block a person’s ability to check for oncoming traffic. I hope they will remove the snow from intersections, but I also know that is wishful thinking. St. Paul streets are just a mess, but its a totally different situation because so many more people have to park on the streets because they don’t have driveways/garages. Its really annoying, but overall I think they are doing the best they can. I certainly saw many plows out on my way into work today. Philip I think this would improve snow removal. Get rid of the Snow Emergency system as it currently exists and simply make an ordinance that when it snows the streets get plowed. Move your car if there is more than 1 inch of snow or it will be towed and then actually do it. Then, get out immediately and plow and fast as you can. The reason the streets are so slippery is because of all the cars which drive on the snow, compacting it, and then there is no getting rid of it until it melts. bsimon 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. Anonymous I think that snow removal would be more efficient in the city if a 4 block radius is plowed by neighborhood leaders for a small compensation. I know that there were plenty of neighbors who would have plowed over the weekend so we could move about more freely about in our neighborhood. Kevin VC The easy answer is ‘remove it, duh…’ We have had warmer and warmer winters, it use to be common to have 1-2 foot snow storms here in Minnesota. Even as the world warms up we will still get them from time to time. And this last one was a reminder Mother Nature is very chaotic when it can be. Some of what needs to be done is NOT be out snow blowing when snow plows come through. Also when Towing trucks are pulled off the road or limited to JUST emergency needs that needs to be reported, as in announced in the news. Cars stuck on the side of the road are a hassle for them for sure, no reason to put a person snow blowing in the way or potentially in the way. The best thing a snow plow can do for those stuck in the weather is allow a path, singular, at least. So we can at least make it home. I saw that on the major roads with the snow storm. I did not see as much sanding and de-icing trucks though… e People in the cities park on streets because we don’t all have driveways. I think the city needs to work more closely with private lots and parking ramps so that cars have a place to go where they won’t be towed or plowed in. Granted, the conditions on Saturday were so awful that most people trying to move their cars at all got stuck numerous times. David Wells Put the snow in a wetland somewhere in the watershed for White Bear Lake so that it can bring up the water level and filter out contaminants before entering the lake. Also, municipalities could contract with private businesses for temporary shovelers. Keith I like the Beijing approach: give everybody a couple hours off work, and require that those who are of able body and age go outside and shovel! Carrie I think that St. Paul needs to start plowing alleys. I understand that we are able to find our own people to plow the alleys but in a situation like this past weekend, finding someone to plow us out was impossible. I live in an area where trying to get 70% of my block to chip in $20 to have someone plow our alley is very hard. Why does Minneapolis plow their alleys on the first night of a snow emergency and St. Paul is left to fend for themselves? James Hence the beauty of living in the country… I rely on ME to move snow. And a 4×4:-) ∑ DTOM Gabriel I would appreciate it if Minneapolis didn’t put the extra snow back on my sidewalk. I also think they should have to plow all the streets down the middle BEFORE they declare a snow emergency. And if they’re looking for a place to put the snow. there’s a river like 5 blocks from my house. It’s called the Mississippi, and I understand the snow will eventually be going there anyway. Ann I agree with many of the comments. In times of financial frugality, let’s work together. The city of St. Paul should work with small businesses and individuals who have the tools to remove snow. This is not a proposal to pay contractors more than city workers, but a suggestion for all to work together. Additionally, neighbors need to work together. On my street-which is literally the last street to get plowed in St. Paul–it’s short and on a dead end-we work together to remove snow. Those who can’t shovel or plow get their snow removed by one of us. I love the idea of time off to work on the snow. That would help immensely. This time it was days before I could get my car out. The city could offer free metro rides, thus helping people get to work without cars! Bottom line–the city, small biz, and individuals need to come to the table to offer their services and abilities, develop a plan, and follow through–not only for snow removal, but for helping people get to work, plowed out of their own homes, and get their cars off the street by providing a viable alternative. If we can have a new stadium, can’t we build some new parking structures? We can have them green, look pretty, a dog park and gardens on top. I’m sure others have tremendously fabulous ideas as well. St. Paul and Minneapolis are you willing to listen, act, and follow-through? Ann Mary G As a walker, user of public transportation for over sixty-five years, and, obviously, a senior citizen, I wish with all my heart that the city would find a way to keep cross walks and bus stops clear. In spite of our talk about the benefits of physical exercise and public transport, consideration almost always goes to the automobile. Plows throw street snow onto our sidewalks and cover bus stops, making foot progress difficult and sometimes dangerous. I wish, I wish… Clare Hohn I would agree that we all need to clear walkways and take care of bus stops But others have done this withot days off and many businesses have in the past fekt that it is their civic responsibily to maintain the fronts of their establishments But I do not think this is always the with many residents let someone else do it is the mantral What we might need is more volunteerism all around Ann Maybe Minnesota should ask New York or Chicago for advice. Ten or so years ago Manhattan had over 20 inches of snow. The media and public in Minnesota loudly criticized New York for struggling with the problems. They handled it, even with their dense population. Maybe Minnesotans have a few things to learn from them! Also, the amount of snow that is put in front of the driveway is overwhelming. bob I don’t think it’s asking too much for the city of St. Paul to plow from curb to curb downtown — and everywhere else– so that all lanes are open and parked cars are not sticking out into the traffic lanes. Downtown sidewalks should also be totally shoveled off. I saw a person with a walker yesterday trying to make it over the top of a three-foot snowbank so that he could cross the road. If I hadn’t been stuck in traffic, I would have tried to go to his aid. So SHAME ON ST. PAUL!! I’d be embarrassed to show out-of- state visitors how unsafe, crappy and clogged up the downtown area is. steve st louis park has really good clearing and i cant think of anything-they are prompt and timely-keep it up! Lori G. Two ideas: 1. How about neighborhood groups in the city (the same ones that celebrate National Night Out) organize in teams to open the corners for foot traffic. 2) until the snow can be removed from street corners within the city I think the speed limit should be lowered. Jerry Linser I do not live in the urban portion of this metro area but it seems the biggest problem in clearing snow for the city streets is all the cars on the residential streets. Would it not be possible to establish a system of snow removal where strip mall or mall parking area be cleared of snow first and then communicate with car owners that they could take there cars there until their street or block is clear of snow so they can return to a competely plowed street and then proceed in a similar fashion to the next block/street until all blocks/streets are cleared. It would take some local organization but it would be better than having to shovel out your car after the fact. Steve the Cynic MPR must have thought we needed a break from answering really important questions. Zebulun Complain, complain, complain. We live in an area where snow is inevitable. If you live in a residential area that doesn’t have off street parking, you assume the responsibility for situations like these. You have a driveway that has snow pushed into it because the city is clearing the street for you? If you’re able bodied and can physically clear it out, stop complaining and do it. If you are unable to physically do the work, get a hold of me or someone else who is willing to do it for free. Overall, the comments below represent the idea that the government and others should be there just as soon as we snap our fingers. We as a society have a big problem when it comes to waiting for something. My apologies for maybe coming across a bit harsh. I am trying to say that we need to be more accepting of our circumstances and deal with them instead of constantly complain. Yes there are some valid points on this page; sidewalks and bus stops being plowed, but others really just need to suck it up. Nyssssa Like steve, I would like to praise St. Louis Park’s snow plowing crews. They do a great job. St. Louis Park has high property taxes, but it is worth it! Ron *Remove* it. Seriously. I am not seeing snow removed. What I am seeing is snow pushed aside – into lanes, onto sidewalks, sometimes into other streets – leading to other issues and prolonged problems. There are more than enough open spaces in the metro and just outside the metro to dump thousands of truckloads of snow. I have lived in other cities who take this approach and, frankly, as well ahead of what Minneapolis and St. Paul are when it comes to dealing with severe weather. Also, I really like the idea of working with malls, etc. for car relocation so that side streets may attended to. This is not a convenience issue. This is a safety (fire trucks, ambulance, etc.) and commerce issue as well. Rob Living in minnesota, I actually feel spoiled in the winter, our roads are cleared off pretty fast. When I look accrossed the river into North Dakota…..Lets just say its good to be a Minnesotan. Carla Januska Visit Ohio and see how they remove snow. They do it right. Chula SAINT PAUL MN NEEDS TO PLOW ALLEYS, NONE OF MY ALLEY NEIGHBORS WILL GO IN!OR SAINT PAUL NEEDS TO PASS LAW THAT YOU HAVE TO PLOW YOUR OWN ALLEY WIDTH OF YOUR LOT. 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