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Growing piles of snow have Minneapolis seriously considering one-side street parking

MinnPost photo by Karen Boros
Officials will decide whether a citywide ban on all non-snow emergency routes should be initiated after assessing conditions following the cleanup of the snow predicted for Thursday and Friday.

Minneapolis is very close to imposing one-side-of-the-street parking restrictions as the city comes close to matching its seasonal snow emergency record of eight.

“We still have almost all of the snow that’s fallen,” said Mike Kennedy of the Minneapolis Department of Public Works. “I think what is different about this winter are the long extended periods of deep freeze.”

In winters past, there usually were January thaws to reduce the height of the snow piles along roads and sidewalks. Not so this year.

“It’s safe to say, it wouldn’t be unlikely that we have to put out a one-sided parking ban,” said Steve Kotke, director of Public Works.

The Minneapolis Fire Department monitors the drivable width of streets during the winter to make sure there is room for emergency vehicles, school buses and garbage trucks.

Signs already have been placed on some streets to limit parking to one side, but a citywide ban on all non-snow emergency routes could be necessary.

Officials will make that decision after assessing conditions following the cleanup of the snow predicted for Thursday and Friday.  

The record of eight was set during the 2010-2011winter, when one-side parking restrictions were declared Dec. 17. Let the record show that the following winter, 2011-12, there were no snow emergencies.

So far this winter, Minneapolis has declared six snow emergencies with a seventh pending. The average number is three.

“We’re going hard at it for three days for a snow emergency,” said Kotke, who points out that “snow events” that fall short of the emergency status still require snow removal. Those events have occurred nearly every two or three days this winter. “We’ve been out there constantly,” he said.

“We are spending more money than in a normal year,” said Kotke, who said setting the budget for snow removal is difficult.

The 2014 budget for snow and ice control is $12.4 million.

Should the city run short of money, it has contingency funds available. The city is currently in a relatively new budget year and typically only draws on contingency funds at the end of the budget in November or December.

“Everybody likes a little overtime,” said Kennedy, but this year snow removal crews have been working holidays and weekends with back-to-back 12-hour shifts working to keep up with snow removal.

“A lot of the staff is getting pretty tired of this,” he added, saying that sewer and solid-waste crews have been pulled in to help with snow removal. “There is a lot of pride and professionalism here.”

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