Austin begins to dig out and the questions begin

February 3, 2011
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As residents continued to dig out from the city’s third-worst snow storm in history, Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) was still trying to get answers from City Hall about when side streets on the West Side will be cleared.

Ervin said he received phone calls all day Wednesday from residents who were unable to get out of their homes. He said he was frustrated with the city’s delay in plowing side streets.

While the city’s Streets and Sanitation crews paved the main streets early, Ervin said the 28th Ward’s single plow truck was diverted to the Downtown area to clear those streets, leaving the West Side community with no way to tackle the snow.

Ervin, speaking to AustinTalks at about 6 p.m. Wednesday, called the situation “totally unacceptable.”

“We have residents that are basically trapped,” Erivin said. “When I see trucks going past my office to go back to the Division yard to refuel, going past streets that need to be plowed … it’s irksome.”

Ald. Deborah Graham (29th) said her staff field called Wednesday morning trying to get information. Graham told the Austin Weekly News that her staff has been contacting churches and block clubs to help shovel in front of residents’ homes.

“This is going to take a community effort because there is too much snow out there for people to handle themselves,” Graham said.

Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) closed her North Avenue ward office Wednesday, giving her staff a furlough day. She told the Austin Weekly News that she was working from home and using e-mails and the phone to contact people.

The snow affected this week’s production of the Austin Weekly News. The storm knocked out power at the newspaper’s printer, delaying the Thursday edition until Friday.

Click here to see photos of the West Side, provided by our partners at the Austin Weekly News.

2 thoughts on “Austin begins to dig out and the questions begin

  1. The Chicago metropolitan area had 54,600 miles of streets and roads, including 2,500 miles of expressways, 17,300 miles of highways and arterial streets, and 34,800 miles of local streets. Almost 80 percent of all commuting is done by automobile.

    To give you some perspective on what crews are dealing with, think about clearing 23 inches of snow off of a road 20 times the distance between New York and Los Angeles. To put it another way, they must clear 23 inches of snow off of a road between New York and Los Angles 20 times, while avoiding millions of cars parked on the side of that road and pedestrians walking in the street.

    Once they are done with that they only have to do it about 10 more times to handle the sidewalks and alleys.

    Lets be happy we don’t all live at the end of a mile long country road in the middle of no where and have to do it ourselves.

  2. Thursday night, Feb. 3rd, AustinTalks heard from a still-frustrated Ald. Ervin. In an e-mail, he criticized Streets and Sanitation for not providing the full complement of snow-fighting equipment for the second day in a row.

    “It is the equivalent of fighting a war with bows and arrows. . . . The 28th Ward is supposed to be provided two front-end loaders and five trucks. We have no front-end loaders and only three trucks. It isn’t enough to complete our snow program,” he insisted.

    Ervin said in the e-mail that Streets and San’s decision to try and collect garbage in the ward’s alleys has made the situation worse. Trucks that should be on the snow program have had to be used to rescue garbage trucks that have gotten stuck in the alleys.

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