Crews haul nearly 50,000 cubic feet of snow out of Downtown overnight

As crews finish the latest Snow Emergency, more snow is on the way

Update for Dec. 15, 2010

As City crews wrap up the fourth Snow Emergency of the season, they’ll continue working around the clock to clean up after the largest blizzard to hit Minneapolis in almost 20 years. Crews are plowing the odd-numbered side of streets that are not Snow Emergency routes today, and will finish Day Three of the Snow Emergency at 8 p.m. Crews have been on the roads around the clock since Friday, working to clear the City's 1,500 miles of streets and alleys. When the Snow Emergency ends, crews will continue enhanced snow clearing operations tonight, focusing on snow removal that improves access and safety. That includes additional snow removal Downtown, both to clear sidewalk corners and widen traffic lanes. City crews removed 144 truck loads of snow overnight, totaling nearly 50,000 cubic feet, in addition to a large amount moved out by property owners.

Public Works is also monitoring weather reports that show more snowfall on the way tonight and into tomorrow. As the snow falls, officials will make a determination about whether a new Snow Emergency is needed. In order to provide access for public safety vehicles like fire trucks and ambulances, it is also possible that Winter Parking Restrictions may be put in place, which would limit parking to one side of streets that are not Snow Emergency routes until further notice. People who park on the street in Minneapolis should check back over the next few days for updates.

Last night, City crews and private property owners made progress hauling snow piles out of Downtown, which has led to wider traffic lanes in some areas. City crews removed snow from areas around bus shelters on the Marquette and Second avenues transit spine, and will continue removal on the corridor overnight tonight.

During this second consecutive Snow Emergency, many more drivers are following the parking rules, which means plow drivers are better able to clear the streets. However, the immense volume of snow means it may not be possible to clear streets as wide as they would be with smaller snowfalls, although plow drivers are doing the best they can to move as much snow as possible off the streets, while trying not to bury sidewalks.

Important things for the public to know today (more detail below):

Now is the time for the public to help get our sidewalks clear

With the weekend’s record-setting snowfall, it is especially important for property owners to clear off their sidewalks the best they can, as soon as possible. With this much snow, an unshoveled sidewalk can trap people using wheelchairs. It can also slow down emergency responders. The corners especially need attention, as Public Works crews are focusing resources on clearing Minneapolis streets as soon as possible.

Sidewalks are a critical part of our City's transportation system. For people on the way to and from their cars, the bus, the train, and even for the entire trip, clear sidewalks make the difference between a comfortable, safe route and a potentially hazardous or even impossible one. That’s why it’s important for homeowners and businesses to keep their sidewalks shoveled, and it’s the law. While you’re shoveling, here are a few other things to keep in mind:

Drive and park smart to help everyone get around

To help keep traffic moving, drivers should do their part to reduce delays. The most important thing drivers can do is to not contribute to traffic congestion is to not "block the box," (driving into an intersection when there is not enough room for your vehicle to make it completely through the intersection.) When the traffic signals change, cars that are blocking the box keep cross traffic from moving, stopping up traffic in both directions.

Instead, drivers should make sure there is room to pull all the way through before entering the intersection. Being patient and sometimes waiting for the next green light will significantly improve traffic flow for everyone. Blocking the box is also illegal and could result in a ticket.

Because of the large volume of snow, in some parts of the city, snow has been piled in the parking lane at some parking (metered and non-metered) spaces. If a space is blocked by snow, drivers should not park in the driving lane. Also, look for parking signs in some snow piles indicating temporary parking restrictions.

The worst conditions in decades

This weekend’s blizzard was a historic storm – the fifth largest in Minneapolis history, and the largest December snowfall ever. More than 17 inches had fallen by Saturday night, the most since the Halloween blizzard of 1991. It’s technically not even winter, and we’re getting close to reaching the amount of snow we have in an entire season. So far 34 inches of snow has fallen in Minneapolis and the average snowfall for an entire winter is 48 inches.

Published Dec 15, 2010