FARGO — Last Oct. 11, there was a 4-inch snowfall in Fargo.
City Public Works Director Ben Dow remembers the day, although he's not expecting a repeat this year.
However, under a new city snow removal policy adopted this month, Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney can declare a snow emergency in the city when the National Weather Service predicts a 4-inch snowfall or more and residents will be required to move their vehicles off all city streets.
If they don't, they face a $100 fine.
Dow said they are going to see how the policy works, but he said it could really "help a lot" in clearing streets quicker, keeping them open from curb to curb, saving taxpayers money and improving safety for fire and police vehicles.
There are 2,069 lane miles of streets in the city as of last count, 130 alleys and 158 cul-de-sacs.
In a snowfall of 4 inches or less, Dow said it can take the city's 25-vehicle fleet of snow removal equipment about 14 to 16 hours to hit all of the streets. When it's above that amount, it can take up to 24 hours.
If residents were to keep their vehicles off the streets until it's cleared, Dow said it could shave up to six hours off that time — meaning it could be done in 10 to 12 hours in a lighter snowfall, and possibly 18 hours in those heavier snows.
Wind, he said, can be a big hindrance.
In addition to having roads cleared quicker, Dow said it can also save on fuel costs and manpower expenses such as overtime. Dow said the equipment can use 80 to 100 gallons of fuel in a 12-hour shift, so fuel savings alone could add up.
Dow and Assistant City Attorney Nancy Morris updated the snow removal ordinances over what turned into a two-month period this summer as they also cleared up language, added a few miles to the snow emergency routes where parking isn't allowed most of the time anyway and redefined the central business district.
The central business district nighttime restrictions on parking will continue in place where parking isn't allowed on certain streets on alternating days to allow crews to work on street maintenance and to prevent long-term parking problems on downtown roadways. Dow said a few blocks were added into the downtown district, with signs reminding residents of the restrictions.
The policy also allows for towing, but Dow said that will mostly be reserved for vehicles that are perhaps blocking traffic or are a hazard on city streets and for those on snow emergency routes.
The new snow policy runs from Nov. 1 to April 15.