I picture those big motor graders going down residential streets having to lift and lower that special equipment every so many feet to accommodate all those driveways. Really, do we have to have an argument about shoveling out one's driveway? Sure, it is a pain in the you know what, but Winter is a pain in the you know what. Shoveling snow off sidewalks and at the end of the driveway is a task that homeowners must do each Winter in South Dakota. If the City is going to do our driveways, maybe they should take care of our sidewalks too. Driveways aren't city streets, nor are sidewalks. Same, same. Sure it would be nice to have the city take care of my driveway but is it a necessity?
How many single family houses and driveways are there in this city? A lot. How many miles of streets are there in the city? There are approximately 780 miles of streets maintained by the City. The number of miles grows every year at about 14 miles per year on the average per the city's website. All I know is that I want my residential street plowed right away and not two or three days after more than 2 inches has fallen from the sky. I also want it plowed curb to curb so I can still travel down the street without going through an obstacle course with all the parked cars on the street. 125 people showed up for a town hall meeting on snow gates and people loved them. The thing is, that test was an ideal situation. Those test areas got preferential and immediate treatment. Two very isolated tests versus the entire city - a little different scenario.
The 2010-2011 Snow Gate Analysis conducted by Public Works has some interesting information regarding the testing of snow gates that occurred from October 2010 through March 2011:
- Total operational time increased 23% with the use of snow gates.
- Fuel consumption increased 31% with the use of snow gates.
- Annual plowing cost impact increased 33% with the use of snow gates.
- Streets are narrower using snow gates - street width was reduced by 7 feet limiting on-street parking, and increased snow in front of mailboxes and fire hydrants for residents to remove.
- Storm Water Inlets are covered with the use of snow gates.
- Snow accumulation of greater than 30 inches poses safety issues and public concerns were expressed at a higher level.
- Snow gates need to be removed for snow pick up, cutting ice, pulling sidewalks, and opening storm water inlets.
- Removing or installing snow gates takes an extra 45 minutes each time.
- For snowfalls of five inches or greater, snow gates were not as effective.
- Wider streets take two passes - can't use a sander plow.
- Wet snow doesn't clear the moldboard - need to backup.
People in support of snow gates say it is a quality of life issue. People in support of snow gates say they already pay for the public service of plowing streets. People who support snow gates don't want to have to shovel out their driveways. I say fine, just accept the fact that it is going to cost more money, make your streets narrower, and it will take a little longer to plow the snow off of all the city streets. The extra costs and the operational challenges are worthy of consideration by the city council.
I still say they are not worth it. I don't want narrower streets. I don't want to wait longer to get my street plowed. I don't want to earmark more money to the millions already earmarked for snow removal. I want that money to go to fixing and maintaining the streets. A quality of life issue for me is well maintained city streets. A quality of life issue for me is no snow. But then I chose to live in South Dakota, not Florida or California.
Don't send me ugly comments just because I don't agree with all of you who want snow gates. Personally, I think the City Council will cave and vote yes on the snow gates. Then everyone can start complaining that the city is not getting the streets plowed fast enough and too much money has to be spent on snow removal. At least everyone will be happy that their personal driveways are taken care of and they can stay in the house, sit in their chair and watch TV.
After all, that is what government is for - to take care of our every wish and desire, right? When they take care of things we should take care of ourselves, don't complain about your taxes.
Driveways are not streets. Driveways and sidewalks are personal responsibilities. Snow gates are a want, not a need.