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State might waive nearly $14k in plowing bills sent to Airway Heights

State officials may waive most of nearly $18,500 in bills sent to Airway Heights so far for snow plowing services along a portion of U.S. Highway 2 within city limits.

No final decision has been reached but DOT spokesman Al Gilson said the agency is considering a possible waiver of $13,878 billed to the city for snow plowing services during 2013. Airway Heights also was billed about $4,600 for November and December of last year, while a bill for January has yet to be calculated and sent, Gilson said.

Airway Heights and the state DOT disagree over who should pay for snow plowing along the 2.5-mile stretch of Highway 2, which could range from $30,000 to $50,000 per year based on DOT estimates but so far hasn't reached even the low end of that.

Even though cities generally are responsible under state law for all plowing services within their boundaries, DOT crews had long taken care of it, largely because they had to pass through the city anyway. But following a massive West Plains annexation in 2011, that changed.

Airway Heights contends the highway serves a statewide purpose as a critical freight and commercial corridor, noting the average number of vehicles traveling that section each day is more than triple the city's entire population of 7,500, and the city can't afford the added cost.

Gilson said the state has been trying to work with the city while the issue gets sorted out. Airway Heights officials have briefed the region's legislative delegation and made trips to Olympia looking for help.

DOT didn't bill the city for the first year, he said, and discussions are underway for waiving the 2013 charges.

 

Which do you say?

"Snowblower" or "snowthrower"?

Mess and mayhem in Spokane…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

It began snowing on the Lower Sourth Hill at approximately 10:00 AM and it took less than an hour for the streets and the freeway of Spokane to degenerate into a bumper car race. Two of three hills I drove over were largely impassable, and the freeway was largely closed between the Argonne and the Hamilton Street exits with multiple fender-benders lining both sides of the roadway. KHQ-TV put the carnage on the freeway at 15 vehicles, but given the number police, fire and ambulances in attendance it truly was hard to tell.

Nevada Street hill had its own count of slide-offs, and the backups caused by that only added to the confusion. Expecting this, I wisely took a side street and made it back home safely.

Why, oh why do we keep revisiting this same inept scenario, with ample warning of foul weather approaching, with snow predicted, and the hours after the storm arrives our streets and roadways degenerate into mayhem? I do not claim to have understanding, nor can I ascertain the reasons why our local government continues to allow this scenario to play out, over and over again.

However, I know it is unacceptable.

Dave

Free at last!

Good morning, Netizens…


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God we’re free at last!


At approximately 3:45 AM PST this morning a road grader of unknown ancestry arrived on Morton Street accompanied by a city snow plow and plowed Morton four times (and eventually Glass Street twice) as well as could be expected after over a week. After digging out our cars from the huge berms the plow/grader created, once more our lives will be semi-normal, and once more the school bus will arrive on time and we can go to work.


Now before Queen Mary Verner takes credit for this, I hasten to remind Netizens that since I regularly travel throughout the Spokane Valley I can state with absolute certainty that the residential streets in Spokane Valley were plowed clean as of Tuesday and Wednesday this week.


The problem, as I see it, is that Queen Mary is unable, for whatever reasons, to manage the union plow and grader drivers. It is readily apparent sitting on her throne in City Hall, she is unable to ascertain the true conditions of the residential streets after a snow fall. One suggestion from several others is perhaps Queen Mary should get out of City Hall more often and simply follow one of the city plow drivers around, as always in the interest of keeping them honest.


I am aware that an individual has already offered the City of Spokane the services of various Mormons armed with heavy-duty four wheel drives to help those in need. To date, there has been no response forthcoming from City Hall, but that comes as no surprise. Queen Mary only does press conferences.


That is perhaps suitable material for the next mayoral election.


At any rate, we are glad to be free once more to be able to conduct our lives more or less as we need to in order to survive.


Dave

Queen Mary’s abysmal record of snow removal…

Good morning, Netizens…


Actually, I should address this to Queen Verner, Mayor of our fair city, because I hold her directly responsible for the incredible lack of effort being made to make our streets safe.


I am sick to death of this crap and I’m not going to take it much longer!


We go to work each day and pay our taxes just like most of Spokane’s gainfully employed and we get pretty much the same services as everyone else EXCEPT when it comes to snow removal along our residential streets. Based upon our experiences from two years ago, we should have learned that actually sending a snow plow down our street is, at best, a half-hearted attempt, as two years ago they barely plowed the snow and piled up huge berms against vehicles that were parked on the right side of the street. We spent two days digging out of the result of having city plows clear our street, and we were even parked on the right side of the street.


This year, what do we have? Well, for starters, we have a school bus stuck in front of Willard School, and none of the streets in the vicinity of the school have been plowed. All side streets, from Bridgeport and Morton (and far beyond) are virtually impassable.


This morning the kids that wait every day at Morton and Glass to catch the school bus waited for over an hour and finally, resigned to their fates, simply started hiking up Morton to school because the school bus was stuck.


Then I can speak about Glass Street, itself. It has not seen a snow plow or grader running with its blade to the ground since last winter. Oh, but to be honest, thus far this week we have seen at least two city plows running with their blades aloft running down the street, their drivers unquestionably on overtime with benefits, but unconcerned with the mess of ruts and berms that sit on the pavement.


Is it time to outsource our snow removal? Is it time to put the contract with the unions in the trash can and find something that works? Is it time the City of Spokane started keeping their promises to those of us who live on residential streets?


I want to know.


Dave

Street crews are out there

With a couple inches of snow on the ground, City of Spokane street crews have been out since the early hours of the morning Monday plowing snow and putting down de-icer on City streets.
Crews concentrated first on hills and now are working on arterials throughout the City.  With snowfall now tapered off, the City is working to improve driving conditions before very cold weather sets in tonight.
Meanwhile, the City has opened warming shelters for the homeless tonight at the Salvation Army for families, Hope House for single women, and House of Charity for single men.  Shelter space is still available at Crosswalk for youth/teens.
Citizens can check the progress of the plows on the arterials on the City’s web site by clicking here: http://www.spokanestreetdepartment.org/snowplow.htm.  Click on “Snow Plowing Progress Map.”  This web page also includes overall information on the City’s snow removal plan.
Plow route maps and other snow removal information also can be found in the City’s utility bills in November, in the current edition of the Inlander, and in last Thursday’s Voice sections in the Spokesman-Review. 

Via e-mail from the City of Spokane this morning

Snow update from the city

With a couple inches of snow on the ground, City of Spokane street crews have been out since the early hours of the morning Monday plowing snow and putting down de-icer on City streets.
Crews concentrated first on hills and now are working on arterials throughout the City.  With snowfall now tapered off, the City is working to improve driving conditions before very cold weather sets in tonight.
Meanwhile, the City has opened warming shelters for the homeless tonight at the Salvation Army for families, Hope House for single women, and House of Charity for single men.  Shelter space is still available at Crosswalk for youth/teens.
Citizens can check the progress of the plows on the arterials on the City’s web site by clicking here: http://www.spokanestreetdepartment.org/snowplow.htm.  Click on “Snow Plowing Progress Map.”  This web page also includes overall information on the City’s snow removal plan.
Plow route maps and other snow removal information also can be found in the City’s utility bills in November, in the current edition of the Inlander, and in last Thursday’s Voice sections in the Spokesman-Review. 

Via e-mail from the City of Spokane this morning

Expensive Snow

This Dec. 18, 2008, photo shows a snow-blown sidewalk covered in snow.

Local governments, schools and nonprofit agencies in Spokane County have been reimbursed $5.7 million for their costs in responding to record snows that began in mid-December 2008 and continued through early January 2009.

Under government guidelines, the Federal Emergency Management Agency paid the agencies for the cost of snow removal during a 48-hour event and for damages to public and nonprofit facilities as the result of a declared emergency. Read more. Mike Prager, Spokesman Review

Did you miss snow this year or do you wish every winter was like the one we just had?

New-and-improved snow removal…

Good evening, everyone…


As our regional weather begins to lean toward fall-like conditions, it is perhaps easier for some to remember the debacle of snow removal last winter. Perhaps that is why Mayor Mary Verner and the City of Spokane are rolling out a revised approach to snow removal as a pilot project for the 2009-10 snow season. This is as close, I submit, as the general public in Spokane will ever get to hearing our Mayor admitting in public that things simply didn’t work last winter. Getting politicians to admit their mistakes is about as difficult as pulling teeth out of a bantam rooster, and just about as noisy.


The biggest problem I perceive about Verner’s proclamations is, once again, despite the purchase of a few more plows (11 truck plows, according to the press release) the City once again seems to be suggesting it is the citizens and businesses responsibilities to keep sidewalks, hydrants and storm drains clear of snow and to adhere to parking restrictions on snow days.


“We heard from our citizens, and we are responding,” says Spokane Mayor Mary Verner.


The Magi of City Hall have changed their plan. Under the new-and-improved plan, the City defines the snow season as Nov. 15 to March 15. During this time, the City may declare a snow emergency when weather conditions warrant.


A Stage 1 Snow Emergency is declared when 2 inches of snow are on the ground and 4 more are anticipated during the current snow event; a Stage 2 Snow Emergency is declared when 6 inches of snow are on the ground and more is anticipated in the current snow event.



A Stage 1 Snow Emergency will require citizens to move parked cars off of all arterials and bus routes, while a Stage 2 Snow Emergency will require citizens to park on one side of the street in residential areas. The parking changes will allow plow drivers to open up streets better, allowing for easier and safer travel during heavy snows.



Although it is not specifically mentioned, when it snows 2 inches of snow with no further additional snowfall expected, the city apparently has decided not to include that element in the plan, despite the tragic number of fender-benders and slide-offs that have taken place every year due to icy intersections and thoroughfares.


If snowfall is less than 2 inches will they plow the main thoroughfares or simply wait until it melts off? Good question. When it snows and the median temperature drops below the freezing point of liquid deicer, will they put traction sand on the major intersections? Probably not, based upon their beastly snow removal performance records of past years.


Last year we had a snow berm of over 5 feet tall in our yard from clearing our sidewalks. Don’t go telling me, as a god-fearing citizen, to clear my sidewalk within 24 hours or face a ticket. I work for a living. Lead by example, not by edict.


Dave



No business like snow business

Most of Spokane County may be thinking about such warm weather concerns as whether we fit into a bathing suit, whether the legs are so white they’ll blind bystanders or how to get  a decent campground site. But not the elected officials of Spokane Valley and Spokane County.

They are still engaged in a war of words over snow. Specifically, how will it be pushed off the streets of the City of Spokane Valley once it starts falling this winter. The answer:

No one is sure.

In January, the Spokane County commissioners notified the City of the Valley the county would not be plowing under its existing contract in the winter of ‘09-‘10. Valley officials’ reaction ranged from surprise to outrage to unprintable streams of invective which, if uttered outside, probably would have melted the snow and contributed to global warming.

County said the current contract allowed for cancellation with 180 days notice, and they were giving much more than that…

So now it’s almost June, and feelings apparently haven’t healed much….

A record-breaking winter…

Good morning, Netizens…


It’s just another day in our snowbound paradise, and despite the fact we are already warming up to the idea that we might actually have a real Spring buried somewhere beneath this noxious wasteland of snow this morning, it snowed overnight again! Thus we have secure a place in the annals of history for ourselves, as this is indeed a record-breaking snowfall.


However, it was predictable that I saw a snowplow proceeding in a stately manner up our street with its blade lifted high into the air.


Equally unfortunately I probably will have to go out on my rounds today, so I’ll see if Saint Crumpandbump, the sacred saint of Spokane’s winter streets, has been afoot already this morning. John Olsen is probably laughing his behind off; John just left for Arizona the other day, and probably is absorbing more rays than snowflakes.


Are you glad it snowed?


Dave

Clean up the mess!

Good morning, Netizens…


In this SR photograph, Spokane police Officer Mike McCasland waits for a tow truck to free a truck jackknifed on a snow berm this week at Riverside Avenue and Madison Street. What is this? We haven’t had any snow this week to speak of, and still there are berms in downtown Spokane? As of Monday there were.


Oh, Queen Mary, you had better put some fire beneath the seats of the Public Works Department or else you will join the various others who have been one-term Mayors. This is a travesty, a joke, some kind of flim-flam when your policy of berm removal consists of “let’s wait until it melts”.


Dave

Residents Don’t Shovel Sidewalks

Item: Other cities not as forgiving toward those who don’t shovel sidewalks/Dan Hansen, SR

More Info: Stowell reached the point of frustration after her district and others repeatedly urged the public to clear their sidewalks. Some obliged. But there’s no penalty for those who did not; local ordinances requiring the removal of snow from sidewalks are not enforced.

Question: Should North Idaho cities crack down on scofflaw residents and businesses who don’t shovel snow from their sidewalks?

I wouldn’t want to be them…

Right now this is what many of the area school districts are up against.

How they remove snow elsewhere…

Good morning, Netizens…

Here is a nifty way to quickly avoid those pesky snow berms.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joMF16c8M14

Dave