Residents deal with snowy streets despite plowing effort

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A winter storm dumped a foot of snow in some spots of the Salt Lake Valley, made a mess of city streets and sidewalks, and slowed the morning commute.

Commuters navigated through slick roads as the interstates and main highways went from snow-packed to slushy.

On residential streets, 42 of Salt Lake City's 48 snow plows have been out since Sunday, in some cases making two or three passes down the same street. But some streets still haven't been cleared.

Rick Graham of the city's public services department said crews are doing the best they can, especially for a storm this size.

"It's been snowing for almost 24 hours straight. In some areas of the city we have over 14-16 inches of snow. So we've been plowing since 3:30 in the morning on Sunday," he said.

Graham said the priorities are arterial roads, then collectors, then residential streets. "We will be by, but we have to take care of where the major traffic is first," he said.

Salt Lake City snow removal rules
Rules require that public sidewalks adjoining private property be cleared within 24 hours after snow has stopped falling. Property owners or tenants who do not comply can be fined $50 the first day a violation exists, $75 the second day, and $100 the third day. For tenants or property owners with street front footage of more than 200 feet, the fines are $100, $150, and $200 respectively. Requirements apply to both commercial and residential properties.

Graham said the city saw the forecast and absolutely was prepared.

"When you have snow that falls continually for 24 hours, with the depth of the snowfall, it requires just constant going back and forth," Graham explained.

A new ordinance holds Salt Lake City residents responsible for clearing their sidewalks in a timely manner. The new rules require walks to be cleared within 24 hours after snow has stopped falling.

Thomas Puckett said the city isn't doing its job because every time it snows, some of his neighbors near 1700 South and 400 East do not clear their sidewalks and don't get fined. He worries someone could get hurt.

Residents deal with snowy streets despite plowing effort

"He'll let the snow pack up until it's 2 to 3 inches. My wife takes the bus in the morning and has to walk or traverse across that. I don't want her slipping, or anybody else," he said.

Craig Spangenburg with Salt Lake Civil Enforcement said the snow stopped falling Monday morning, so the city will enforce the rules starting Tuesday. He said residents with complaints can call city offices at 801-535-7225.

"I think the city's really concerned about the aspect of safety where you've got sidewalks that don't get shoveled. They're concerned about pedestrian safety and they're hoping most people will comply, and for those that won't we have a stiffer penalty," he explained.

Fines range from $50 to $200.

When plows clear streets the snow often gets pushed into driveways and onto sidewalks. Residents are responsible for keeping those areas clear, as well.

"We hope that we have a lot of neighborliness going on today, a lot of neighbors helping each other out," Graham added.


Story written with contributions from Anne Forester and Andrew Adams and Nkoyo Iyamba.


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