St. Paul continues snow removal into weekend, residents asked to move cars

More than a foot of relatively light, fluffy snow swept into the Twin Cities this week, not quite keeping pace with most forecasts but still cracking the list for top 25 snow events in Minnesota history. In the aftermath, the work of plowing residential streets and ticketing and towing cars that have blocked snow removal is far from over.

In St. Paul, progress made this weekend could help determine whether the capital city follows in the footsteps of Minneapolis, which instituted a one-sided parking ban that began Jan. 26. The goal is to keep residential streets navigable for emergency vehicles.

“At this point, the boulevards are pretty full of snow, so getting snow off the streets and onto the boulevards is tough, but we’re trying to get the streets as wide as we possibly can and avoid a one-sided parking ban,” said St. Paul Public Works spokesperson Lisa Hiebert. “This is a lot of snow, and it’s snow emergency No. 7 (for the city).”

The city of Minneapolis, which was scheduled to complete its three-day snow emergency at 8 p.m. Friday, declared an additional one-day snow emergency from 9 p.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Saturday. The new snow emergency, coupled with the city’s one-sided parking ban, has fed some confusion among even the most civic-minded residents around where to park and when to move their car.

“No one on my street moved their cars to the odd side of the street for plows today,” wrote Audrey Kennedy, a former Minneapolis romance columnist, on social media on Friday. “So now only the even side is plowed and parkable. We can’t park on the even side anymore because of winter parking restrictions. What do I do now?”

St. Paul snow emergencies

In St. Paul, where critiques of snow plowing and road maintenance can sometimes take a fever pitch, some residents and drivers said the city’s two back-to-back snow emergencies had made strong, though not universal progress.

“I say St. Paul pulled off the storm better this time,” said Steve Camp, owner of SC Creative Landscaping in Maple Grove, who plowed 62 driveways this week throughout the Twin Cities. “They got it together. Minneapolis, not so good.”

St. Paul, which began the first of two night plow operations at 9 p.m. Wednesday, was scheduled to complete its second pass through day routes — mostly east-west residential streets — by Friday evening. Plow drivers will move into a clean-up phase this weekend through Monday evening, focusing largely on widening driving areas and clearing residential streets that may have been missed earlier.

“We get calls like, ‘I’m on a day plow route, and I haven’t seen a day plow yet,'” said Hiebert on Friday. “That’s because we’re still on day plow routes into the evening.”

She added: “If we miss a street, we do that in the clean-up phase, which is after we get done with the night plow and day plow phases. That’s when we’ve got trucks and drivers back out primarily on the residential streets.”

Ticketing focused on cars not moved in days

Residents are asked not to park on residential streets that do not appear fully plowed. City employees and contract temps will be out ticketing vehicles, with a focus on cars that have not moved for days.

St. Paul made free parking available at its Parks and Rec center lots into Sunday, and about 100 drivers took advantage of that opportunity Thursday night. The city also made eight downtown parking ramps free into Saturday morning, drawing more than 750 drivers.

From the start of St. Paul’s first back-to-back snow emergency on Wednesday night through the end of the day plow phase Thursday, city employees and contract temps had issued 1,624 tickets, as well as 408 tows. More than half of the tickets were issued by day and most of the tows took place at night.

While residents may leave a voicemail over the weekend to alert St. Paul Public Works about unmoved cars and unplowed streets, the most efficient way of sending word to the city is by emailing Voicemails will be checked intermittently this weekend at 651-266-6100.

“People who don’t move their cars are frustrating for our plow drivers, but they’re frustrating for their neighbors,” Hiebert said. “It’s the No. 1 complaint that we get: ‘Because my neighbor didn’t move their car, now I have all this snow in front of my house.’ A lot of people expect us to ticket and tow all of the cars out there. There’s literally tens of thousands of cars. We do the best that we can.”

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