City of Spokane to finalize new snow removal plan, plow streets sooner

KREM 2's Alexa Block talks to city leaders about the snow removal problem.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Before the next winter season, the City of Spokane Street Department is working to finalize updates to its Snow Response Plan and it has resulted in an overhaul of the current process.

According to a release from the city, citizens will see the following from the new plan:

  • More plowing, sooner
  • More equipment and people utilized for snow removal
  • Completion of a full city plow during heavier snowfalls, estimated around three days.
  • Piloting new equipment to minimize driveway berms.

“While all the work isn’t finished yet, we are putting together a plan that will allow us to respond more quickly to snow conditions and to work in residential areas more frequently,” Public Works Director of Strategic Communication, Marlene Feist, said in the release.

Feist said the city is planning to change how it goes about day to day snow plow operations.  She said, “when it snows- even if it’s just an inch or two, the City will be plowing all the streets, including residential streets, as part of their regular work days.”

The City of Spokane had about 1,600 people respond to their snow removal survey. The city got about 1,000 written responses. From the feedback city officials took the most pressing concerns and looked for ways to address them.

The biggest issue the city heard was about how long the snow removal process took. The new city plan calls for more frequent plows throughout the whole city. When there is just one or two inches of snow they plan to begin to plow and that now means a full city plow. The city will use workers who are already on their shift to do these plows. The plan allows for workers to be taken off other duties to drive plow trucks.  

If snowfall gets to four inches they will “up” the effort and bring in more crews and equipment. Those crews will be on the street around the clock until it is done.

"We're going to put more people on plows. Get them out into neighborhoods. So maybe it'll take us a week to clear the whole city to do it under that kind of condition, but it's really reasonable and we will stop having that build up in the residential streets, so that when it does really snow hard we aren't already dealing with compact snow and ice from previous small snowfalls,” said Feist.

Feist said the city already treats the roads with deicer before snowfall and that will not change.
She said they plan to get a full city plow for heavier snow falls down from four days to three days.

 "We will initiate that 24/7 full city plow at about four inches, but we are also leaving a lot of flexibility in the hands of our street crews, so if it's three and half inches and they think it's a big mess they can call it. They don't have to wait until some ruler says it's four inches,” said Feist.

Another concern were from parents and how snow removal was done near schools. The city plans to prioritize roads near school zones, bus stops and medical facilities even if they are not on main, busy streets.    

Snow berms that blocked driveways and sidewalks were also a major concern for people. The city plans to add gates to some of their trucks to keep the snow out of driveways. Feist said they will buy two new loader trucks that can be fitted with gates. And they will add gates to 5 other trucks in their fleet.  

"We'll have seven gates this year. Last year we had one, so we will have seven gates this year and we are going to rotate them throughout the city,” said Feist.

Feist said if the gates work they plan to invest in more.

The final plan is expected to be finalized and unveiled next month. 

© 2017 KREM-TV


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