Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's Snow time, Folks!

Find out more information on the City of Spokane at www.spokanecity.org.
November 15, 2010
Contact:        Marlene Feist
Public Affairs Officer
(509) 625-6740
Mayor Verner says City is prepared; encourages residents to do the same
With lots of predictions for higher-than-normal snowfall this winter, the City of Spokane is officially marking the start of snow season.  The City has been preparing for snow and is encouraging citizens to take steps to prepare as well.
“Snow is a fact of life in the Inland Northwest, so we must be proactive in our winter preparations and our approach to snow removal,” says Mayor Mary Verner.  “Today, we’re taking an opportunity to remind people of our snow removal plan and what we all can do to make winter weather more manageable.”
The City’s snow removal plan is designed to improve safety for motorists and pedestrians, ensure emergency responders can reach citizens, and enhance movement for pedestrians, motorists and economic activity.
The City revised its snow removal plan last year, following two years of heavy snow accumulation, and committed to enhancing snow removal efforts, stepping up sidewalk snow removal around City-owned property, and enhancing communications efforts with citizens.  Citizens and business owners, meanwhile, are asked to follow parking restrictions and keep sidewalks, vehicles, hydrants, and storm drains clear of snow.
Details of the snow removal plan, along with a map of residential snow plow routes, will be available in the Nov. 18 Inlander and Spokesman-Review Voice sections.  In addition, this information has been sent out in the City’s November utility bills and is available on-line atwww.spokanecity.org.
Under the plan, the City defines the snow season as Nov. 15 to March 15.  During this time, the City may declare a snow emergen-cy when weather conditions warrant. 
Snow plan
Page 2
A Stage 1 Snow Emergency is declared when 2 inches of snow are on the ground and 4 more are anticipated during the current snow event; a Stage 2 Snow Emergency is declared when 6 inches of snow are on the ground and more is anticipated in the current snow event. 
A Stage 1 Snow Emergency will require citizens to move parked cars off of all arterials and STA fixed bus routes, while a Stage 2 Snow Emergency will require citizens to park on one side of the street in residential areas.  This year, citizens will be asked to park on the side of the street with even number addresses.  The parking changes will allow plow drivers to open up streets better, allowing for easier and safer travel during heavy snows.  The City expects to issue warnings to those who are parked incorrectly.
Removing snow from sidewalks within 24 hours of a snow storm also is critical.  A committee of citizens, local school representatives, Spokane Transit Authority representatives, and City employees looked at an enhanced approach to sidewalk snow removal that would eventually require tickets for those who failed to comply.  This year, the City is asking for voluntary compliance.
In addition to revising our snow removal plan, the City has made additional preparations for winter weather in recent weeks, including:
  • Installing the plow blades on the City’s dump trucks.
  • Purchasing de-icer and sand.
  • Stocking up on tire chains, shovels, and other winter equipment.
  • Ensuring contracts are in place with private contractors who would supplement City snow removal crews during Stage 2 snow emergencies.
  • Changing our employee schedules in the Street Department to provide 20-hour-a-day coverage.
  • Beginning 24-7 monitoring of weather conditions.
The City also would like to encourage residents to consider what they need to do to get ready for winter in the Inland Northwest.  Among other things, residents should:
  • Make sure they have adequate snow supplies at home—shovels, along with sand or de-icer are a good start.
  • Ensure that vehicles are equipped for snow.  Tires should be aggressive enough for winter weather and throw a few basic supplies in the trunk, including a blanket, a shovel, and some traction sand.
  • Check with neighbors who might need assistance keeping their driveways and sidewalks clear of snow and ice.  Offer to help them throughout the winter season.
  • Familiarize themselves with the parking restrictions during snow emergencies.  Those who park on an arterial or fixed STA bus route must move their cars within 6 hours of a declared Stage 1 snow emergency.  During a Stage 2 snow emergency which includes a full-City plow, residents need to park on the even side of the street for the 2010-11 winter in residential areas until the plows complete their work.