FOX47 NEWS - Mayor Announces Plans for New Snow Removal Rules

Jeff Angileri
Dec 22, 2007, 9:14 PM

Just as December's snowfall turned into a melting slushy slop, another storm is headed this direction. The current forecast shows snowfall in the Madison area beginning around 6 p.m., with accumulations of 3 to 5 inches. Totals could be higher in counties to the west and southwest of Dane County.

Of course, in Madison, skeptical eyes will be on the clean-up that follows. Us city officials heard loud and clear that we did a lousy job when we had that first snow, said downtown alder Mike Verveer. This December, Madison has already received more than 20 inches of snowfall.

Verveer, other downtown alders, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz's staff, and streets officials met for three hours on Thursday to find a way to reduce complaints. The first list of ideas mostly affects downtown and the Isthmus.

The one I'm most excited about is free parking in the downtown parking ramps earlier than the current 1 a.m. policy. The idea is to now open up ramps for four more hours during snow emergencies starting at 9 p.m., ending at 7 a.m. For longer term needs, the parks department is willing to allow free parking on its lots, including these at Tenney and Burr Jones parks.

Another idea would affect streets with Clean Streets/Clean Lakes regulations. Roughly from March to November, cars are not allowed to park at all on particular days and particular hours so the street sweepers could go by. The city is considering extending that rule year-round so the snow plows can go by as well.

That then would allow us to get to the curb during the daytime like we're doing now with our post and tow operations and really clear that out, said George Dreckmann with the Madison Streets Department.

Post and towing usually happens when the fire department declares a street too narrow. The city has to give 48 hours notice before it does this. The mayor wants that notice cut in half, to 24 hours.

Then there's the issue of fines. Cieslewicz supports doubling parking fines during snow emergencies from $30 to $60. Verveer is skeptical of that. Only a year ago we raised the fines by 10 bucks, obviously it didn't do much except bring more money into the city and that's not what this is all about, said Verveer.

Verveer would like the city to improve how it notifies residents about snow emergencies, which is another idea on the mayor's memo released on Friday. Verveer, however, said it's difficult reaching so many transient UW students.

Some of these ideas need council approval first, like increasing fines, so that won't happen for a month or two even if they're passed. Other ideas like changing the hours for free parking in the ramps will take a few weeks to reprogram those automated ticket takers.

Verveer said the city is still working on a list of suggestions to improve snow removal for the rest of the city.

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