Mayor Chris Beutler said the City is prepared for winter weather with new snow removal districts, new equipment and new ways to keep the public informed. The City has about $3.65 million available for snow operations this winter.
"For the Public Works and Utilities Department, snow is a year-round issue," said Mayor Beutler. "They use the warmer months to update procedures and research the latest tools for keeping streets clear, traffic moving and people safe. We're also employing new technology this year to better respond to complaints and to keep residents informed on snow operations and parking bans."
Monday, the City Council approved the creation of eight snow removal districts. In these areas, the snow is plowed into windrows, loaded into trucks and hauled out of the area between midnight and 8 a.m. To assist with snow removal, the Mayor may prohibit parking on both sides of the street in the districts, which include streets in Downtown; University Place; Havelock; Bethany; College View; 11th and "G"; 17th and Washington; and 25th and Sumner. Maps can be found at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: snow).
The Mayor said the City's biggest tool is the cooperation of the public. "Our crews can do the most effective job in the shortest amount of time if residents move their cars off the streets," he said. "We know that parking bans are inconvenient, but they are sometimes necessary to keep streets safe."
In a snow emergency, parking may be banned on both sides of emergency snow routes, arterial streets and City bus routes (maps are available on the City website and in the Windstream phone book). During a residential parking ban, parking is first banned on the even-numbered (north and east) side of the street. Once the Mayor has terminated that ban, parking will be banned on the odd-numbered (south and west) side of the street, and parking is again permitted on the even side.
To notify the public of parking bans, the City has two new tools this year:
Information on snow operations also is available through local news media, government access cable channels 5 and 10, and the City website (lincoln.ne.gov), which also allows residents to sign up for RSS feeds.
Vehicles parked illegally during snow emergency, snow removal district or residential parking bans are subject to fines, towing and storage costs at the owners' expense. Vehicles parked in a way that does not allow emergency vehicles to pass may be ticketed for obstructing a public street.
In the area of equipment, the City is testing the use of a "belly plow," which is attached under a snow removal truck. While the regular plow on the front end of the truck pushes the snow, the belly plow acts as a grader to remove packed snow. The cost to add belly plows to trucks is a fraction of the cost of a grader. The City also is looking into the use of wing plows, which allow a truck to plow two lanes of traffic with one pass.
The City has installed automatic vehicle locators (AVLs) on two trucks and has another three portable AVLs available to monitor the progress of the snow plows. The City also has a new system of monitoring complaints. Instead of keeping a list of problem locations, operators are now able to plot them on a computer map, allowing for a more effective and coordinated response.
The City's 2,700 lane miles of streets are divided into 19 routes for snow removal and material spreading operations. The City will again be proactive by applying anti-icing materials, which help minimize frost build-up and the development of "black ice" on streets and bridges and make removal of snow and ice build-up easier.
The City reminds residents that it is illegal to push or blow snow into or on any street, alley or sidewalk When clearing sidewalks, residents should also clear wheelchair ramps, curb cuts and access to fire hydrants.
To find out about parking bans and snow removal operations, the public can call the City Snow Center at 441-7644. The public should report street condition emergencies immediately by calling 441-7701. To report non-emergency situations and potholes, the public can call 441-7646.