Street Savvy

Posted: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 11:39 am
By: Doug Lund
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If there’s one thing I’ve learned in over 40 years of living here is that Sioux Falls residents do NOT want the city to take any shortcuts when it comes to  taking care of our streets (ALL of them) during (or preceding) winter weather..and they don’t give a rip what it costs.   

Apparently our new mayor doesn’t see it that way and has concluded that there’s plenty of fat to be trimmed from the snow removal budget..so he’s decided that, to save money, Sioux Falls will no longer pre-treat our streets with chemicals before ice and snow storms. Plus secondary routes and side streets will not be treated unless it’s warranted.  Warranted? Nobody’s asking that the plows roll for every inch deep snowfall but folks would certainly appreciate and deserve to have a sand/salt truck to come by rather than wait for a warm sunny day to take care of the frozen rutty streets. 

How many drivers in the last week were involved in fender bending accidents that might have been prevented if somebody at city hall would have glanced up at a weather radar screen to see that freezing rain or snow was headed our way; time to dispatch the chemical trucks.   Nope, that’s not the policy anymore.  Of course drivers need to be more cautious when the weather stinks, but come on…if there’s a way to make the streets safer and we don’t take advantage of it because of the cost…well, that’s just wrong. 

Mr. Mayor, why don’t you have a little public gathering outside the comfortable but cramped confines  of the Wisk and Chop or go door to door and ask local taxpayers how they feel about your bright idea to cut back on winter street services to save a few bucks.

I’ll save you the trouble. Here’s what most will say: “Spend whatever it takes..but we want our streets treated and plowed as soon as humanly possible.” “If we can’t afford to keep our streets up, how in the %$^&* can we afford to spend a couple hundred million dollars on an events center we actually do NOT need.”   

I’ve always wondered what happens to the money in the snow removal budget that goes unused in those years when we have open winters and the plows pretty much stay parked.  Apparently it winds up in some other kitty.

Just a thought, here. Why not create a special account (hey, you could call it a “slush” fund) where unspent snow removal dollars are deposited. Allow it to build up and earn interest during dry years and draw from it when we have those biblical proportion winters?

I can hear it now..hizhonor saying in his infamously colorful language..Lund hasn’t got a  @#$%&! clue about how city government works. And that’s true..but I do know people in this town pretty well and would bet my social security check that the majority look at snow removal like health insurance..it’s expensive and we hope it’s never needed but if and when the time comes, don’t be cutting any corners. We want the best care possible.

I wonder if I let my sidewalk go un-shoveled this winter city officials will show up on my unplowed side street to give me a ticket.

13 Comments

  1. Pat says:

    Doug, it scares me that secondary streets are going to be touched – we all know how the ice packs on and unless we don’t get any more snow and it gets up to 40 every day, our streets will be snow and ice packed – and I would guess maybe causing pot holes!!!!

  2. Donn says:

    For once, I disagree with you. The city does not need to take care of every street with minor amounts of snow like we just had. Since I moved here a couple years back, I have been amazed at how spoiled everyone is.

  3. Tom says:

    Doug – thanks for the commentary. I agree with you 99%. The 1% disagreement is that we don’t necessarily need to go overboard with cleanup after smaller snow falls. Although, it would be nice to have some sand at the bottom of my street since it is solid ice!

    Just for the record – whether or not we see an increase in spending for street cleanup etc does not change the fact that I do not want my $$$ being spent on an Events Center that we do not need!!!! Talk about waste.

  4. Doug Lund says:

    Donn, if you read the blog closely you’ll see that I did NOT feel people were insisting that the plows roll all over town for a small snowfall. But to leave the sand and salt trucks parked, unless somebody calls, is frugality to the point of foolishness. It’s not being spoiled to insist that side streets get a dose of something to give us a grip.

  5. Lynn says:

    Doug, I agree with you 100%. Last night, after work I drove down 11th to the post office mail box, then swing out of downtown on 10th, going west. One block west of 10th & Minnesota was so slippery, I was doing 20 mph and sliding all over. Besides those streets being on the emergency snow route, they are state highways. I don’t get the logic of this mayor either. To skimp on something important, like our winter streets, and lavishly spend on a “possible” events center we don’t need is purely stupid. If all he heard during his campaign is “we want an events center”, then he better do like Shrek and clean the wax from his ears.

  6. Scottish Goldfish says:

    A further frustration: On the rare occasion that my street is cleared, those who drive the plows gather all the snow they possibly can and deposit it across the the end of my driveway. Back to icy streets: I live at the top of a steep hill. At times it is more efficient to travel down that hill, but in the winter, I have to go out of my way in order to stay on a level street or travel sideways down the hill. A possible solution to the former: Have guys or gals from local lock-ups follow the plows and clean out the driveways that have been filled in. It would give them some fresh air, physical activity, and something productive to do to while away the hours, but I suppose that would be considered cruel and unusual punishment. Never mind that I, a law-abiding, tax-paying resident of this city, am forced to do the same activity.
    Not only do we not need an event center, I thought we either voted or otherwise expressed our opinion that we don’t want one, in any part of the city.

  7. LeAnn says:

    I wonder how many fatalties it will take for him to rethink this plan. And the number of bad accidents that will happen that could have been prevented if he would sand and salt the roads. I have lived here since 1969 and it took years to get the program to the point we finally had that worked. So Mr. Mayor if it AIN’T BROKE it don’t need fixing!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. daniel Johnson says:

    I don’t know Doug about the sanding > I don’t live in your city but in the city where I live the sand trucks are so quick to sand that in the winter it is like living on a gravel road and cleaning up the garage floor is a weekly duty.

  9. Robert says:

    I think the insurance companies should be willing to sand the streets.That could save both the city and them money

  10. Susan says:

    I agree with you Doug. The money that the Mayor alloted for the task force on the events center he should be using on the streets. There are such holes in the streets right now that come Spring after all the freezing and thawing our steets should really be a mess!!!

  11. Bob says:

    Totally agree. I live out of town but commute into Sioux Falls each day. Mr. Mayor, you need to keep your streets safe more than you need an events center.

  12. Frank Finney says:

    Doug, what has become of our friend Steve H.? I miss his blog.

  13. GMAX9 says:

    I think your Mayor has been talking to the Mayor in Pierre. Waiting for Mother Nature is the norm here. We have more than our fair share of hilly streets in this town and it can be a real nightmare to get around after a couple of inches of snow. One of the most frustrating things is they don’t even sand/salt in the school zones where you never know when a child will dart out and you’ll be unable to stop. There are lots of days when the 15 MPH school zone speed limit is too fast.

    Good luck convincing your Mayor to change his mind – I think we’re on about our 3rd or 4th Mayor since they adopted the “let Mother Nature do it” policy here. If you do get him to change his mind be sure and cover what was done so we can try it here.

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