"Snowbirds" Throw Wrench into Plowing City Streets

February 21, 2019 05:50 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- It's been a month for the record books.

But the amount of snow isn't the only thing that's increasing.


"We're at a point where the entire city is having some problems getting plows down the roads," said Austin Police Chief Dave McKichan.

It's one of the challenges of a Minnesota winter: When it snows, the streets need to be cleaned. But that's becoming more difficult.

"When we get large snows, or when we get snow back to back to back, it starts to create problems," McKichan said.

"The biggest issue we're finding is in some of those residential neighborhoods, where there's a vehicle parked on each side," said Steven Lang, city engineer for Austin. "Our snow plows just can't even get through."

The city has put a snow emergency into effect. It's based on calendar parking, and prohibits parking in designated high-traffic areas for the time the emergency remains in effect.

"The police department does enforce the snow emergency regulations and will ticket, and if need be, at times we will tow, because those cars that are in violation are keeping the street crews from being able to clean up the streets," McKichan said.

"With all the snow we've had over the last month, our roadways are getting narrower," Lang said. "There's just nowhere for us to put the snow from the road. The cars then start to get closer and closer and it becomes a hazard for passing vehicles."

McKichan suggests moving a car into a driveway or other off-road spot.

Allowing the plow room "is going to benefit you, it's going to benefit your neighbors, it benefits emergency services," he said.

"We're finding a lot of snowbirds out there," Lang said. "And that really impacts our snow removal operation."


Dan Conradt

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