GR braces for more snow, asks for drivers’ help

A Grand Rapids street, becoming more and more narrow as more snow falls.  (Jan. 31, 2014)
A Grand Rapids street, becoming more and more narrow as more snow falls. (Jan. 31, 2014)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD ) — In some areas of Grand Rapids, the problem of snow and vehicle-choked streets has gone well beyond annoying.

“It is frustrating… cause you can’t hardly get past these people without trying to hit their vehicles.” said Teresa, a Henry Street resident who didn’t want 24 Hour News 8 to use her last name.

The snow has piled up and moved out from the sides of the street.

Add a few cars along the edge, and you have a tight, potentially dangerous squeeze.

How bad is the problem?

“Well, bad for us is if an emergency vehicle cannot make it down your street,” said Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom.

City officials updated their snow removable operations Friday. Most city streets have been plowed at least once since the last snow event.

But with more snow predicted for the weekend, crews spent Friday trying to moved the piles of snow back over the curb to create more room on the side of the street for the next snowfall, and the next time the plows come through.

“I apologize,” Sundstrom said. “I do expect we’re gonna put snow on your sidewalk and in your driveway, but we need to do it to make sure our streets stay open so we can get emergency vehicles down your street.”

City crews used a small, pickup truck-mounted plows Friday to get around those congested areas and widen the streets.

The biggest problems are in Grand Rapid’s older neighbors, where streets are narrow and driveways are few.

“The streets tend to be 20 to 26 feet wide where as a modern street, a residential street is at least 30,” Sundstrom said.

And vehicle owners ignoring the odd-even parking restrictions are a big part of the problem.

Grand Rapids police officers have written hundred of violations, Sundstrom said.

But 24 Hour News 8 found a number of snow-covered cars still sitting on the street with the tickets all but buried.

“If we cannot open up the street, we will tow the cars,” Sundstrom said. “We will impound them. “We have not started that.. we have been ticketing vehicles, trying to encourage people to move, but, we’ll see what this snow fall does.”

The state allows the city to declare a state of emergency when the public’s safety is at risk.

Sundstrom said the city is no where near that predicament.

The majority of streets are free and clear. It’s just the few streets, about 5 percent of the total, in older neighborhoods that have the biggest problems.

If your street hasn’t been plowed, call 616.456.3232.

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