Sunday, January 30, 2011

Illogical Approach To Snow Removal

Why is it that some municipalities do such a far better job clearing away snow and ice after a storm than others do? We always hear that some areas are much more used to getting snow, so are better prepared. But, if we hear that every time there is snow, year after year, winter after winter, wouldn't it make sense that government agencies that do not do such a good job would learn something from those that do?
Keeping in mind that there are financial and space restrictions to snow removal, I have prepared a short list of items that all municipalities can and should do, if they really wanted to do a better job:
1. Equip all municipal vehicles that are capable, with plows.
2. Anytime there is more than a couple of inches of snow, make sure that "chains" be placed on the rear tires of all buses, trucks, etc., so that they will not get stuck, they will have a far less chance of skidding and slipping, and they can be a help rather than a hindrance to the snow removal process.
3. Have sand placed on as many roads as possible early on during a snowstorm, so that less sticks to the roads, and whatever sticks is easier to plow and remove.
4. Prioritize roads into primary, secondary, tertiary, etc. status, and clear the roads in that order. This does not mean ignoring those roads that are lower priority, but simply that the initial emphasis should be on the primary roads.
5. Declare a snow emergency, and require that, in as many cases as possible, there be no parking, so that the roads can be thoroughly cleaned and plowed. When this is not done, plowing becomes very limited, those cars then clean themselves out making the roads even more limited, and the situation becomes compounded. On primary roads, and on roads that have more than one lane in each direction, it is not okay to only clear one of the lanes. It is one thing to initially do that, but the plowing should be expanded. Tickets and towing should be used with any violators.
6. When the storm ends, plows should immediately be sent to widen roads. There is nothing as dangerous as lanes that all of a sudden disappear.
7. There should laws that are enforced that private plowing should not be permitted to obstruct public plowed roads. Violators should be stiffly fined.
8. Homeowners and storekeepers should be mandated to clear their sidewalks within a maximum of two hours after the end of the snow, when it occurs during business hours, or by the start of business the next day when it is not during that period. These rules must be enforced.
9. After plowing is done, and before it gets far colder overnight, roads should be sanded to prevent dangerous icing.
10. Municipalities must have detailed plans and contingency plans, and these must be made public.
These suggestions are simply the beginning of what could and should be done. Granted, snow removal is costly, but so is the cost of injury due to safety related injuries. How about the economic impacts of not sufficiently clearing roads, and the impacts on business, education, government, etc.
It is not a matter of how much money is spent. It is having a plan, doing a better job, having and enforcing codes and laws, and using some common sense. I guess that's why they say that common sense is often not very common!

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