City reverses snow plow policy

Workers to clear side streets as in past years
January 6, 2009 (CHICAGO) The plan started on Tuesday with more than 200 large and small plows clearing the main streets first, then tackling the side streets

Snow equals politics in this town ever since a mayoral election was lost over a blizzard.

So, it is no surprise city hall does an about face over its policy to cut back on snow removal.

The Streets and Sanitation commissioner says streets will be plowed and salted no matter what time the snow arrives. However, it all depends on the temperature.

As the snow fell on the city on Tuesday morning, snow was the talk inside City Hall. Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Mike Picardi was called to a special hearing after hundreds of Chicago residents complained when their side streets were a mess after a December snow storm.

Picardi says from now on side streets will be salted and plowed in the prime winter months.

"We're going to gauge it on temperature. Right now in the dead of winter when we know the temperatures are not going to rise above freezing those side streets will be addressed," said Mike Picardi, commissioner, Dept. of Streets and Sanitation.

Picardi says side streets will be addressed even if it means overtime which means City Hall has taken a 180 since the mayor announced back in October snow removal cutbacks. Picardi himself was in hot water when he spent close to $500,000 on a minor snow storm but that all changed with a major snow storm combined with complaints.

"The people of the city of Chicago made it very clear they want snow removal," said Ald. Isaac Carothers, 29th Ward.

And Alderman Isaac Carothers warns the mayor and the Department of Streets and Sanitation their reversal on the snow removal cutback policy may not be enough for residents.

"It's hard to make a second first impression. So now they have to come back and try to gain the confidence that they had from Chicagoans for a long time and now people are going to say my street was not done well and they missed my street only because they made the announcement we're going to cut back on side streets," said Carothers.

Commisioner Picardi admits he is in a no win situation.

"It's a tough job," said Picardi.

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