Snow removal plan focuses on parking, volunteerism - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

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Snow removal plan focuses on parking, volunteerism

Mayor Mary Verner unveiled the City's new snow removal plan alongside Streets Department Director Mark Serbousek (Photo; KHQ) Mayor Mary Verner unveiled the City's new snow removal plan alongside Streets Department Director Mark Serbousek (Photo; KHQ)
Last year's epic snowfall left many thinking the City had to improve its snow removal plan (Photo: File / KHQ) Last year's epic snowfall left many thinking the City had to improve its snow removal plan (Photo: File / KHQ)

SPOKANE, Wash. - After consulting about a dozen different cities from across the nation, Spokane city officials believe they have a better plan to handle snowy streets this winter.

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner, addressing the City through a news conference Thursday morning, focused on new parking restrictions that will go into effect when a certain amount of snow hits the ground, volunteerism and stepped-up efforts by the Street Department to clear streets and sidewalks.

“This year is about volunteerism - cooperation,” Verner said.  “It’s not about enforcement with fines…. We think voluntary compliance is the way to go in our community because our citizens are very good about stepping up and helping one another when we bring the information to their attention.”

Central to Verner’s plan this year will be new parking restrictions that will go into effect in the event of a Stage 2 snow emergency, defined as 6-inches of snow on the ground with more forecasted to fall within 24-hours.  In such a case, vehicles will be required to park on the odd side of the street to allow room for snowplows to clear driving lanes.

For those parking on an arterial or a bus routes, the restrictions go into effect earlier than what would be required in a Stage 2 emergency.  When City officials declare a Stage 1 emergency, which is two inches of snow on the ground with more forecasted, drivers will be required to remove their vehicles from those roads within six hours of the snow emergency declaration.

The snow emergency, Verner said, would be distributed through all media as soon as possible.

To improve the snow removal process, Verner said the City purchased an additional 11 snowplows this year.  All plow trucks will have chains for their tires, the de-icer is already purchased and private contractors are already lined up in the event the City needs to call them in to help.  In addition, city crews have already seen their shift change to winter hours to make sure they’re available to work in the event of a snowstorm.

The way snowplow drivers will clear streets will also change this winter.  In response to numerous complains about snow berms piled up on sidewalks last year, plow drivers will move their blades further away from sidewalks, according to Street Department Director, Mark Serbousek.  Moving the blades back from the edge of the street will supposedly keep snow from piling up on sidewalks.

Keeping sidewalks clear will also be a new emphasis this year.  Verner asked everyone – from residents to business operators – to do a better job of clearing snow and ice off walkways.  And not only walkways, but also from around fire hydrants and storm drains. 

“The last two snow seasons the phenomenal outpouring of assistance from neighbor-to-neighbor and friend-to-friend is really what kept our city going, and we expect to be able to call in our citizens to do that again,” said Verner.

Verner noted the City’s efforts to distribute the snowplow plan to as many people as possible.  Maps were published in both the Spokesman-Review and the Inlander newspapers on Thursday.  Those who don’t get a paper will find the City’s plan in their utility bills.

The new snow removal plan is a result of months of investigation done by city officials who looked at cities around the country from Denver to Minneapolis for a model.

“What we came up with is kind of a middle-of-the-road approach,” said Serbousek.  “It’s not the worst, the most extreme, it’s not the easiest by any means.  But it’s kind of a middle-of-the-road approach.” 

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