Answer Man: Change for plows will take time

November 26, 2018

Since we’ve had a bit of snow I have a question for whoever is in charge of plowing the streets.

I live in an neighborhood where everyone has small garages and driveways and many households have multiple vehicles. Every winter I wonder why we don’t have scheduled plowing like some other big cities.

They do a good job, but I would think it would be more efficient if they didn’t have to plow around vehicles.

Thanks for getting the scoop — Mary

Dear Mary, it appears snowplow drivers agree with you.

Megan Moeller, communications coordinator for Rochester Public Works, told one of my minions that changing plowing practices has been a discussion in the city for more than two decades, and the department is in favor of it.

So far, the Rochester City Council has only cleared the way for a pilot program near The Place, which houses the Boys and Girls Club a few blocks east of Answer Man World Headquarters. The program, which rotates allowed parking daily from one side of the street to the other, is in place during months when snow is likely, which starts Dec. 1.

It means residents and others can only park on the odd side of the street — the side with odd house numbers — on dates with an odd number, meaning on Dec. 1, cars should be in front of a house number ending in a 5 rather than a 4.

As a result, if snow lands on an even day of the week, plows can clear the odd side of the street without going around parked cars and return the next day to clean up the even side.

Council Member Mark Bilderback, who represents that part of the city, said he’s heard positive comments, but the council wants to see hard data before implementing a citywide change.

Dan Plizga, Rochester’s infrastructure maintenance supervisor, said Public Works staff is working on a new proposal based on the existing pilot program and the desire to be more efficient when clearing narrow streets.

“We definitely want to roll out some more pilot areas,” he said, noting the department will look at streets that are the most difficult to maintain after snow falls.

He said current staffing doesn’t allow plow operators to keep returning to streets to see if cars have moved, which means snow can build up even after a neighbor digs out.

Plizga said changes will likely start on narrow residential streets near downtown, where more street parking is used by commuters than neighbors.

After that, he said, the department has been creating a list of other streets that pose challenges for plow drivers and neighbors.

Until a change is made, however, we’ll likely have to rely on others to be considerate about finding off-street parking when possible as snow looms in the forecast.

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