GR delays refuse collection for snow plowing

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Plowing city streets can be a challenge. Drivers have to maneuver around parked cars and other obstacles.

Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom said Tuesday that the entire city snowplow fleet was working around the clock. They’re making progress, but their success is also dependent on Mother Nature.

“It typically takes us 24 to 48 hours to clear the entire city. Early this (Tuesday) morning, we started plowing in local residential streets . If it were to stop snowing, I think we’d probably be all clear by tomorrow morning. But I understand d we’re supposed to get another six inches, so I suspect that will be delayed a bit more,” Sundstrom said.

Because of the effort to get streets cleared in Grand Rapids, residents will have to wait to have your garbage picked up. Garbage and recyclable collection in the city has been moved back one day. So if Tuesday is your normal collection day, your refuse will be picked up Wednesday.

It is not because the garbage trucks can’t make it through the snow. Rather, it’s a shifting of resources. The public works department is taking drivers from behind the wheel of refuse trucks and putting them behind the wheel of plow trucks.

“We wanted to use that person power to provide more people to help abate the snow,” Sundstrom said.

Residents are asked to make sure their cart is off the street and on the curb for collection, which will help plow trucks complete their scheduled routes.

The city has also shifted some money in the summer maintenance budget back to winter. The result is 14 drivers have been added this year.

The odd/even parking restrictions that have been in effect for years. The city manager said police are writing tickets for violators. The city has also designated one-side only parking on 19 city streets.

It’s another lesson learned from last winter.

“We had great difficulties with trying to get emergency vehicles down a street — fire trucks, ambulances. We need to make sure that we can access every home in this city,” Sundstrom said.

As the winter of 2013-2014 wore on, traffic lanes on many streets narrowed.

Now add another wrinkle to the problem: The city has added bike lanes to several city streets. Some die-hard cyclist that will use them this winter. But if a driver crosses them, they could get a ticket.

Sundstrom said the city plans to handle that problem by avoiding it.

“It is truly my objective that we plow curb to curb every time this year. I want to see if we can avoid streets narrowing. I believe we can and it’s just a matter of being very disciplined about plowing curb to curb. And that will aid us with bicycle lanes as well,” Sundstorm said.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, city crews continued hitting the main arteries. They have tried to make at least one pass on residential and less-traveled streets.

As they do that, officials are asking for your help. Shovel your sidewalk and clear around your mailbox. And since it’s awfully tough in an emergency to find a fire hydrant buried in the snow, officials are asking neighbors to clear the snow away from them as well.

That’s three ideas from city hall.

“And then fourth, check on a neighbor,” Sundstrom said. “We have many neighbors who are housebound, particularly in these temperatures and with this amount of snow. … Just a quick knock on the door might be very helpful.”

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