If you live in Minneapolis, the winter that won’t quit just got worse.
On Day 1 of restrictions limiting parking in Minneapolis to one side of residential streets, the Whittier, Uptown and Phillips neighborhoods in south Minneapolis looked like ant farms Sunday. Cars circled the snow-clogged blocks again and again searching for a space on the odd-numbered side of non-snow emergency streets.
A similar plan may soon be imposed in St. Paul, officials said Sunday.
“This is ridiculous,” said Jay Andresen, 26, a third-year law student and apartment dweller who lives in the 2200 block of Garfield Avenue S. He eventually found a spot on Lyndale Avenue S., just a block from his home.
Some blocks still had abundant parking on the odd side. But each of those also had one, two or a half-dozen cars still parked on the even side.
While those car owners were risking a ticket and a tow, they also were risking public safety. The parking restrictions, which could last until April, were put in place Sunday for the first time since the winter of 2010-11 to make room for fire rigs and other emergency vehicles. It isn’t that the 8-foot-wide firetrucks can’t get through the streets, but with cars parked on both sides, it is difficult for firefighters, paramedics and police to work from the rigs, ambulances or squads, said Assistant Fire Chief Cherie Penn.
“No one is taking this decision lightly,” Penn said Sunday. “We know it’s a tremendous inconvenience for people, but when it comes to public safety, we don’t want to have anyone at risk. We just ask that they bear with it, comply with it and help us out as much as they can. You never know when that 911 call may be for yourself or someone you care about.”
St. Paul city officials said Sunday that they will decide this week whether to institute one-sided parking restrictions.
Rash of crashes
Lt. Eric Roeske of the Minnesota State patrol said since 2 p.m. Thursday, statewide, troopers had responded to 1,183 crashes, 2,568 vehicles off the road, 1,253 stalls, 75 jackknifed semi trailer trucks. One fatality, on Thursday, is being blamed on the storm.
Almost every one of the crashes happened because drivers were going too fast for the conditions, he said.
“It’s been an incredibly busy 72 hours for our troopers,” Roeske said. “It’s what we sign up for when we take the job. But it’s not something that should go unrecognized.”
Freeways, particularly in the metro area, were expected to be “pretty good” for Monday morning commuters, Roeske said. There are still a few ice-rutted and slippery spots, he said, under bridges and signs where the sun hasn’t been able to reach the pavement.
He urged commuters to “prepare, leave early and check traffic reports on 511.org.” Above all, Roeske said, have patience on the roads.
Some, however, were all out of patience for the rigors of driving and parking.
Donna Dunham, 62, was getting off a bus Sunday afternoon at 11th Avenue S. and Franklin Avenue E. Her car, already parked on the odd-side of E. 21st Street, will stay right there. She’ll take the bus to her job in downtown Minneapolis.
Working hard to clear roads
Mark Fischbach, snow and ice operations superintendent for MnDOT, said plow drivers have been working 12-hour shifts 24 hours a day to clear the roads and those shifts will likely continue until Wednesday or Thursday.
“I’ve been doing this for 32 years now and this is the second-worst storm I’ve seen,” Fischbach said. The first was the 1991 Halloween blizzard.
“It took us two weeks to [get] the compaction off the roads in 1991,” he said. “Now … we did it in a number of days.”
Sue Mulvihill, deputy commissioner of MnDOT, said she isn’t worried about the storm breaking the budget.
She isn’t concerned about salt supplies, either, but there may not be much left by spring.
“We will use what we need to make sure we can take care of this storm,” she said. “Sometimes that means we’ll take money away from other things, like patching or mowing.”
She predicted a “prolific pothole season,” for the state, cities and counties.