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My Turn: The time is here to think about snow

Posted: November 12, 2011 - 10:47pm  |  Updated: November 14, 2011 - 12:01am

The snow is moving down the mountainside, and it’s that time of year to start thinking about winter, winter driving and winterization of our homes. This year the Public Works Department, along with all other city departments, will be experiencing reductions in staffing levels as the result of budget shortfalls for the next two years. We will do everything possible to minimize the impact to the public.

Snow Removal

The major streets will be our first priority and will be plowed and maintained the same as we have done in the past. However, some neighborhoods may not be plowed as quickly as in the past. Areas likely to be affected in the Downtown/Douglas areas include Bayview, the Rock Dump, and the downtown alleys. In the Valley, some neighborhoods may not be plowed on an everyday basis as is needed, but rather may have to wait for a day to get plowed.

You can greatly facilitate snow plowing by adhering to a few simple guidelines, as follows:

• Obey the posted “No Parking” signs. While no one wants their vehicle towed, the practice of plowing around cars means that the Streets department needs to return a second time to plow after cars have been moved. This greatly increases the time and expense of plowing. If your car is not capable of driving in snow conditions and you plan to park it all winter, or plan to take a vacation, please park in an area that does not impede snow removal.

• Make sure that fences, planters, rocks and other obstructions are not placed in the city Right of Way (ROW). These types of items pose a hazard to the snow removal crew, the equipment and the traveling public.

• Place garbage cans for pick up far enough away from the street, so they are not hit when snow is plowed off the roadway.

• Do not place snow on top of storm drains, over the ends of culverts or in ditches.

• Do not push snow into travel lanes, and please clear snow from sidewalks adjacent to your property.

Part of the plowing process results in a “berm” being placed in your driveway. While I understand it is unpleasant to remove this amount of snow, it is every property owner’s responsibility to move the “berm” if necessary. Please do not place the snow back in the road.

Pipe Thawing

The city’s Water Utility will not be thawing service lines this winter. The thawing equipment is a very specialized piece of equipment, and repair parts are not available. It is not cost effective for the city to perform this service and is more appropriate for private contractors to offer this service. Please keep in mind that if the neighbors on both sides of you have water, the water main is not frozen.

It is the homeowner’s responsibility to flow water such that the water line from the main line to their home does not freeze. If the line does freeze, it is up to the homeowner to thaw the line. Again, keep in mind that if the water is flowing to your neighbors, the main water line is not frozen.

Capital Transit

At various times during the winter, it is not safe to take buses up or down certain streets. When Capital Transit goes on a snow route, the buses operate as follows:

• Do not go up Cordova Street (Pick up the bus at the base of Cordova Street and Douglas Highway).

• Do not turn around at St. Ann’s (Pick up the bus at Savikko Park).

• Do not travel up Franklin Street (Pick up the bus at the Downtown Transit Center)

• Do not travel down Davis Avenue (Pick up the bus on Glacier Highway).

Capital Transit will announce buses going on snow routes as early in the day as possible. This change can also occur in the middle of the day, however, depending on changing snow conditions, so please plan accordingly.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me, Kirk Duncan, director of Public Works at 586-5254 or at The Public Works staff takes pride in what we do and we are asking for your assistance in helping us do our job this winter. We appreciate it.

• Duncan is the director of the City & Borough of Juneau Public Works Department.

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