Snow emergency, parking rules, extended to noon Friday

By Tom Held of the Journal Sentinel

The snow emergency in Milwaukee, along with its parking restrictions, will remain in effect until noon Friday, Department of Public Works Commissioner Jeffrey Mantes announced late Thursday.

The extension of the parking restrictions could add to the difficulties for residents struggling to dig out cars buried in drifts from the record-setting blizzard. The announcement from DPW included the warning: “Cars must be moved every 24 hours or they will be towed.”

As of 9 a.m. Thursday, the city towed nearly 300 cars and issued nearly 1,800 tickets for various forms of illegal parking, according to a release from the DPW. On top of the fines, violators will be assessed a $105 tow fee and $20 a day for storage at the city tow lot, 3811 W. Lincoln Ave.

The lot is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

One of the challenges for residents on Thursday was digging out cars buried in the mounds created by snow plows clearing the city streets and to comply with the odd-even alternate side parking rules.

Parking will be made available on Milwaukee Public School playgrounds from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. The list of MPS playgrounds open for parking can be found here.

After hearing complaints from residents in his district, Common Council President Willie Hines asked managers in the Department of Public Works to ease off enforcement of parking restrictions.

“Any vehicle that interferes with plowing, tickets should be issued,” Hines said. “But if the plow can get through, and these cars do not interfere with the plow drivers’ ability to do their job, in those circumstances, residents should be given time to move them.”

The flurry of tickets is a normal follow-up to major winter storms in the city, particularly in neighborhoods with little off-street parking. Ald. Nik Kovac, from the east side, referred to the process as a dance to stay ahead of the plows.

Hines, however, was not persuasive.

In a response to Hines, Mantes said: “We did give a break last evening in the residential areas as we had not gotten to some streets yet. We are in cleanup mode now and need to finish this operation. Cars need to be moved and parking regulations followed. The longer we prolong it and the more times we have to go back to clean up snow islands, the more money it costs us.”

According to the City Department of Public Works, 99% of the main streets and 78% of the residential streets had been plowed as of 9 a.m. Thursday. Cleanup work will continue.

Nearly 300 pieces of equipment, from plows to snow blowers, were deployed Thursday to clear the streets from curb-to-curb and clear bus stops.

Residents are required to clear their public sidewalks within 24 hours, but the city will not investigate complaints until Monday.

Garbage and recycling collection will resume on Friday, and there will be a collection on Saturday as well. Staring on Monday, crews will work two extra hours a day on garbage and recycling collection.

Overall, the street-clearing operation in the city has received solid grades after the 19.8-inch snowfall from Monday through early Wednesday morning. In an online Journal Sentinel poll, 80% gave the plowing effort a grade of B or better; 19% rated it a C or lower.

“Generally, for the initial operation, most people are pleased,” Ald. Robert Donovan said. “People understand the difficulty with that much snow.”

Donovan said the next challenge will be to clear the residential streets from curb-to-curb give people a place to park their cars.