My block was cleared today. For 13 days, it was impassable. We (many of the residents) did our best to get as many of the cars out as possible, using a large SUV to pack the snow down for about 2/3rds of the block, digging it out as it got stuck every few feet. As is often the case during events like this, we engaged the neighborhood, talked to people we only waved to before, and even had a little fun.
I’ve been pretty vocal on Twitter that the city had done nothing until today to clear the block. The street is one way, and we cleared the ‘bottom’, so most of us had to back up the street to park. This actually worked out fine, as no one trying to find a parking spot who didn’t live here would think to do that, so we didn’t have issues with parking spots. We also worked together to make sure that folks had spots, letting folks block garages as long as we knew we could call them to move if someone had to leave.
There was a story in the Baltimore Sun addressing the slow cleanup this morning. I understand this was a historic snowstorm, and I know there’s only so much the city can do. The frustration for us was twofold. First, city leaders kept telling us how well they were doing, that X% of streets were ‘clear’, which was clearly not true to anyone actually driving on the streets. Second, there were efforts to clear streets closed to vehicle traffic, and special efforts to clear churches and schools before some streets were passable at all, putting into question the prioritization of snow removal efforts.
This from the City Transportation Department Spokesperson, Kathy Chopper, directly from the Sun article:
City Transportation Department spokeswoman Kathy Chopper said crews continue to chip away at the problem of clearing secondary roads, where travel has been hampered by two big snowstorms over the course of a week. Now that conditions have improved, the city planned to lift its Phase 2 emergency Tuesday night, allowing parking along snow emergency routes, she added.
So far, so good. They are chipping away at it. But then she said this, a direct contradiction to the above statement, and frankly, a lie:
Chopper said that as far as she knew, all of the city’s streets had received at least one pass of a snowplow – after days in which many residents reported their streets hadn’t been touched. “A lot of people are complaining because they’re expecting to see blacktop,” she said. “With this amount of snow, they’re just not going to see that.”
No. We were not complaining that we couldn’t see blacktop. We were complaining because there is absolutely no doubt my block never saw a plow, salt truck, or any other snow removal treatment from when the snow started on Friday afternoon, February 5 until today, Wednesday, February 17. I would testify to that in court, under oath. No. Doubt.
And my block isn’t the only block.
That’s either a lie, or the spokesperson for the Transportation Department is being fed false information. We need to hold the city leaders accountable. Not because it took a long time to clear the snow, but that they continue to lie about it. Slow response is frustrating, dishonesty is unacceptable.