City alderman hires his own snow plow to clear streets in 21st ward

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- A St. Louis city alderman concerned the residential streets in his ward were not clear of snow took matters into his own hands Friday.  Twenty-first Ward Alderman Antonio French turned to a community group for help hiring a commercial snow plow firm to plow streets still covered with snow and slush.

French said residents had expected the city to do a much better job overnight Thursday.  "On most of the side streets it looked like a plow didn`t go down, maybe a large truck so there were tracks, but not really a plow."

French denied his move was a political one.  "This is about getting people to work," he insisted.

St. Louis City has never budgeted for plowing side streets.  But this week`s heavy snow could change that.

St. Louis Street Department crews added the residential routes to their work Thursday after Mayor Francis Slay decided neighborhoods needed help due to the heavy snowfall and the fact newer cars are not as large or heavy as vehicles once were.

St. Louis City Streets Director Todd Waelterman said his crews covered 7800 blocks with one pass Thursday night.  "That`s not enough to remove all the packed snow," he said.   "We didn`t have time to get it to bare pavement."   He added, "it was only a seven to eight foot path and at the intersections there were still big piles of snow that people had to traverse through so four or five hours later the vehicles had drug this out into the street again, and it may look like we weren`t there."

The mayor and Waelterman said some residents may not like having to dig their cars out of snow banks created by the plows.  Heavy street parking makes it difficult to plow, and workers worried they might strike a parked car.

Both Alderman French and the streets director agreed city officials and residents need to talk about what they expect when a heavy snow coupled with cold temperatures make travel on side streets nearly impossible for more than a few days.

"We`ll probably have to go to independent  contractors to handle residential streets while the city does major and secondary roads," Waelterman said.  He recalled a one foot deep March snow in 2013 on a Sunday.  "The temperature jumped up and in a couple of days it was gone."

"You are not going to go out and buy ten twenty million dollars worth of equipment and have it sitting around for an occasion that may happen every five years, every four years, every thirty years," he predicted.

French questioned why more smaller city trucks particularly from the park department could not have been used on residential streets.  'We need to look at that in the Streets Committee.  Other municipalities in the  St. Louis region and of course across the country do this, so it`s not like it`s impossible,'  he added.

French said the extra plowing cost North Campus Partnership one thousand dollars.  But even that effort failed to clear all the streets.  Slush and heavy snow remained on parts of Kossuth and nearby side streets at nightfall.

St. Louis city is looking for comments from citizens regarding the snow plowing efforts and what they would prefer in the future.  Click here to give your feedback.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay announces plan to plow side streets
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