Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Why Your City Street Continues to Resemble a Swiss Glacier

Posted By on Tue, Feb 8, 2011 at 9:00 AM

click to enlarge The intersection of Chouteau and Vandeventer as photographed this morning.
  • The intersection of Chouteau and Vandeventer as photographed this morning.
Daily RFT has fielded several inquiries from readers wanting to know why their St. Louis street remains snow-packed and why the city isn't doing anything about it.

Yesterday we got on the blower with City Hall. Here's the deal for those unfamiliar with city policy and budget woes: The St. Louis Street Department only allocates funding to clear snow from arterial (a.k.a. busy and/or emergency) routes and "secondary" streets that feed into those bigger roadways. It does not budget for snow removal on residential streets. Why?

"The reason is money, of course," says City Hall spokeswoman Kara Bowlin, who notes that the St. Louis has been sacked with unusually high snowfall amounts this year. With winter not even close to being over, the city doesn't want to bust its snow-removal budget too soon.

"We have enough salt for this year," says Bowlin. "But the biggest issue we're facing this year is to replenish the salt for next year, which is allocated in July. We may be looking at spending $750,000 to replenish that supply, which will come out of the fiscal 2012 budget."

Moreover, plowing on residential streets can be a double-edged sword. While it clears the roadway, it often makes it impossible for people parked on the streets to get their cars out of the snowbank left by the plows.

Now an end may be in sight, thanks not to the city but Mother Nature. After getting through the next few days of bitter cold, temperatures are expected to hit the upper 40s this weekend and stay there for most of next week. Trickle, trickle melting ice.

P.S. If you think your street should be plowed and represents a danger, you can call the Citizens' Service Bureau at 622-4800. Also the city has a pothole hotline: 768-2805.

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