FARGO — After a weekend snowstorm that Fargo Public Works Director Ben Dow said was the worst to clean up since 1996, he told Fargo city commissioners Monday night, Dec. 2, that officials are working on a new city snow emergency policy.
Dow said he and Assistant City Attorney Nancy Morris are working on a new plan that would restrict parking on streets when there is 4 or more inches of snow.
He said they hope to bring a proposal to the City Commission by next month.
Dow said the policy likely wouldn't involve towing cars, but rather a ticket and fine for anyone parked on the streets during the emergency that would be declared by the mayor.
Commissioner Tony Grindberg asked how much a new policy restricting parking on streets would speed up the snow removal process.
"It's hard to put a number on it," Dow said, but it could shave hours off the time it takes his crews to plow streets.
It could also help eliminate accidents, he said, as plows sometimes hit parked vehicles during major storms.
Dow said the Fargo policy would be similar to those in Minneapolis and St. Paul. There, vehicles are restricted from parking on marked snow emergency routes overnight from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. on the day of a storm. On the second and third days, vehicles are asked to park either on the odd or even sides of non-emergency or residential streets or face tickets and towing.
The public works director said this weekend's 9-inch snowfall was a "struggle." He called it the worst in decades because the wet snow got packed on city streets and it was "hard to get traction," even for the plows.
Mayor Tim Mahoney also wanted to make it clear that one side of the city is not cleared before the other.
Dow said his crews split up the city into 15 zones. The south side of the city takes about 12 hours to clean up, while the north side takes about eight hours. The south side takes longer because of wind gusting through open areas.
The storm offered something of a surprise, Dow said, as after about 4.5 inches fell on Saturday, then they woke up on Sunday morning and another 4.5 inches had fallen overnight.
Crews were busy all day Sunday trying to cope with the mess.
He said they used "every piece of equipment" in the plowing effort. He added that downtown streets would be cleaned up over Monday night.
Mahoney asked those at the City Commission meeting to give the public works crew a round of applause for the work they did, although many complaints and concerns were raised by residents.