You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 1:23 p.m.

Ann Arbor officials admit challenges with plowing streets when major storms hit

By Ryan J. Stanton


City Administrator Roger Fraser discussed the city's challenges with snow removal with members of the Ann Arbor City Council Tuesday night.

Ryan J. Stanton |

City Administrator Roger Fraser acknowledged the city's shortcomings as he briefed the Ann Arbor City Council Tuesday night on the city's latest snow removal efforts.

"We were not anticipating the event that we got," Fraser said of the winter storm that started Sunday and left more than 9 inches of snow on area roadways by Monday.

Lack of an accurate forecast is part of the reason why the city wasn't fully prepared, Fraser said. He also acknowledged the city purposefully has avoided investing in more heavy duty plow equipment that could help the city respond more quickly to such a severe weather event.

"They would allow faster progress on our majors if we had access to vehicles like that, but we don't. And we think it's an appropriate budgetary strategy to not gear up for this rather untypical event," Fraser said, adding it's important to keep in mind that less than 3 percent of snow events are of the volume and consistency experienced this week.

"We don't plan for this kind of event, because it's very unusual actually," he said. "If we get this much snow, typically it's very light, it's fluffy and it's easy for us to work with."


A car parked on South University Avenue is surrounded by snow after a storm earlier this month that was dubbed "Snowmageddon."

Ryan J. Stanton |

Mayor John Hieftje said he thought the city did a better job responding to the storm earlier this month that was dubbed "Snowmageddon."

He said the city found out about five or six years ago that it would have to make "a considerable investment in equipment" if it wanted to improve performance in peak storms. City officials decided against the investment for fear the equipment would be rarely used, he said.

"So there would probably be some years when that equipment didn't come out of the garage, and so that was the judgment," he said. "We could always have that conversation over again as we approach the budget and decide if that's an investment we'd like to make."

Fraser acknowledged the importance of snow removal as a matter of public safety. Another 4 to 6 inches of snow is forecasted to hit the Ann Arbor area by Friday morning.

"We know that our responsibility with snow removal is the one that everybody scrutinizes," Fraser said. "It's the one thing that we do that virtually everybody in the city sees. And so we are set up to do the best we can with the equipment we have and the resources that we have."

Fraser said the city uses fleet equipment for plowing by outfitting trucks in the street maintenance, utilities, parks operation, forestry and communications departments.

At the start of this week's storm, Fraser said, the city kept all of its available large equipment staffed and working on snow removal. The city has 14 large plow vehicles capable of spreading sand and salt, but two of those were down for repairs at the start of the storm, he said.

Other smaller equipment the city has is not capable of moving the volume and weight the most recent storm brought and is used primarily for cleanup after plows clear an area, he said.

Fraser said the city started with pre-treatment of intersections and slopes at 10 a.m. Sunday in anticipation of 1 inch of snow and a half-inch of ice predicted to begin at 1 p.m. As the day went on, the forecast changed and the city began plowing with all staff available.

"Which allowed us to staff 11 large plows," Fraser said.

Fraser said snow was falling at a rate of about 1 inch per hour, making it very difficult to keep major streets cleared. Between 1 p.m. Sunday and 6 a.m. Monday, the city ended up plowing all major streets twice and all secondary streets at least once, he said.

"We switched to 12-hour shifts on Sunday, with the night crew coming in early at 6 p.m., and continued snow removal with all 12 large trucks with spreaders," he said.

Fraser said the snow stopped accumulating at 5:22 a.m. Monday. At 6 a.m. the city assigned four plows to major streets for maintenance, 13 dump trucks to plow local streets, with another two pickups and a loader for cleanup on cul-de-sacs.

Cleanup in subdivisions was slow, though.

"This was one of the wettest snows that we've had in a couple of years, and when you have that wet volume of snow, it does strange things to particularly lighter plow vehicles," Fraser said. "You can't control in that kind of condition, so they were moving slowly in the residentials."

With the exception of cul-de-sacs, all local streets were cleared as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Fraser said. He said the city was about two-thirds complete on cul-de-sacs and would continue working on them throughout Tuesday night to have them cleared by this morning.

Fraser said while it may be true that county primary roads around Ann Arbor were cleared earlier than the city's streets, other cities were similarly making slow progress — as evidenced by the number of school closings. He said the difference is that the Road Commission has more heavy duty equipment and more rural roads that are easier to clear fast.

Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, said she was concerned that the city's snow removal website doesn't get updated often enough so people can see what's going on.

Fraser attributed the problem to having fewer city employees than in years past. He said that's one of the reasons why his administration proposed an automated GPS system that would track not only the city's vehicles, but also when plows and spreaders are being used.

Fraser noted his administration recently proposed a $200,000 package that would include installing electronic tracking equipment on all vehicles that are used in snow removal. The City Council instead chose to spend $88,000 on a pilot project to test out the technology.

Dan Rainey, the city's information technology director, said in an e-mail to city officials on Tuesday the city is proceeding with the installation of the vehicle tracking hardware on 14 of the large snow plows and spreaders. He said that should be completed this week.

A new website used to monitor the vehicle movements will be up by the end of next week, Rainey said, though the system won't immediately be able to tell when the vehicles are plowing or spreading sand and salt because of a parts shortage.

"The result of this is that we will be able to see the vehicles on the map, but because of the absence of the components mentioned above, we will not be able to tell when they’re plowing or sanding," Rainey wrote to city officials.

Council Member Mike Anglin, D-5th Ward, wondered if it's possible to equip more city trucks with plow blades and cross-train employees in other departments to do snow removal.

Fraser said the city went through an assessment in 2004 and 2005 of all vehicles capable of being equipped with plow blades. He said the city then equipped every one of them and put all employees who could drive them through training to operate in the snow.

"At that point, we actually more than doubled the number of pieces of equipment that could be put on the street," Fraser said, adding the city still uses that same system today.

"In order for us to optimize that any more, we would have to start training people who don't work in the field, which we don't think is cost effective."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 12:42 p.m.

"Brighton still hasn't cleared some arteries, so at least Ann Arbor is ahead of some communities around here" Can we set the bar any lower than that?


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 12:20 p.m.

If the piles of snow that were removed was considered "Snow Art" would there be some money available?


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 6:11 a.m.

You intelligent beings who rant about all of this "stuff" are being fueled by people who post on here to get "the party started" don't you. I thought not, your suckered right in and it's funny.


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 5:53 a.m.

Since everyone on here knows how it should be done call whoever so that it gets done. AA seems so entitled, all of the surrounding cities did not have there streets done to perfection either. Buy heavy duty equipment and of course the every popular brine equipment, with limited uses, are you willing to pay, Sallyxyz? This is a science that is not accurate due to many circumstances beyond anyones control. Roads are not funded by your city, yes city, tax dollars, get a grip. Look it up. Yeah Yeah gonna have the bashers on here, the truth hurts.


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 5:15 a.m.

The saddest part of the snow removal process was watching a truck spreading salt on Plymouth Road in advance of the storm, then watching all the salt being blown into the middle of the road (non-travel turning lanes) within minutes because, hmm, people going 50 mph blows salt around! Am I to suppose this is a best practice? And I second the question: why were those vehicles out of service? Answers?

say it plain

Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 5:02 a.m.

Totally agree with the people who claim that things have gotten way worse on snow removal since Hieftje. Whatever it is--trying to do more with less, or inefficient planning, or refusing to buy equipment, or refusing to make the necessary staff hirings to plan and monitor this important important safety issue for the city--*something* has deteriorated this last decade around here. And it's not just about 'peak events', but any. Maybe relying on snow plows attached to mini pickups from the lawnmowing-gear brigade isn't the ticket to properly clearing the streets so that they are safe and usable. Perhaps since the city is willing to spend the bucks on 'consultants' telling us that conference centers would be a good idea in a down economy in a snowy city (or at least 'telling us' that they'll certainly accept at face value what the developers say about such things lol), they can hire someone to work out what they *need* to get the city streets safe and passable within a day or so after a relatively significant storm. We should count on getting a couple every winter, shouldn't we?


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 3:11 a.m.

I'm not sure the equipment is the problem here -- it seemed more like a problem of priority -- some main streets were plowed while others stayed unplowed for an entire day -- Major subdivisions and apartment complexes (Take Woodbury Gardens for example which remained unplowed until late Tuesday) remained unplowed while smaller side streets were ironically plowed out right away. It seems to me that a community of over 1000 residents with hundreds of cars should probably be prioritized over an adjoining street that has 10 homes....but that is the way it went this week. Look, I'm not complaining about mother nature -- I've lived in cities with much worse snow, and much worse snow removal -- But when major residential areas, downtown and its business, and major access routes remain unplowed while secondary areas are plowed neighborhood by neighborhood, there seems to be some major prioritization problems.


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 4:40 a.m.

The city would not be responsible for private streets and parking lots such as Woodbury Gardens!


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 3:20 a.m.

I always thought apartment complexes were responsible for their own plowing? I could be wrong. My old apartment used to do it for us.


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 2:48 a.m.

I think that the notion of good services vs. low taxes is a false binary. If we deployed the snowplows intelligently, we could probably have better coverage without increased cost.

Mr. smarty

Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 2:24 a.m.

Snow Plows cause global warming so a smart and progressive city like Ann Arbor should not be using big plows unless the snow is removed with Honda's or Toyota hybrids.

Fed Up

Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 1:25 a.m.

I was out 2 times sunday night shoveling my obligatory walkway. Shoveled again Monday, after walking to and from work ( a huge debacle - pray tell who thought it would be wise to plow street snow onto all the downtown cross walk curbs? At one point I thought I might need a belay to make my way to work.). As I came home today, I noticed the city's community service workers were out hanging their snow removal notices on front doors - how about they carry a shovel as they whine their way around the neighbourhoods? I noticed the U of M lots were spotless. How about they show some love for the community that surrounds them, and help plow? Perhaps that would make up for game day hassles and having to dodge puke piles from all the drunk students. I'll be trudging my way via the sidewalks again tomorrow-if they are not up to the standards that I and the residences of this city are held to, what city hall door shall I tape my snow removal notice on? Just mail the check to my house - I threw my shoulder out shoveling this afternoon, and I'd like to buy a snowblower. Because I live in Michigan, and it snows here.


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 1:05 a.m.

I think that the U of M should plow all the streets that their police dept patrols. Since they don't pay taxes.


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 12:55 a.m.

We have plenty to complain about here in Ann Arbor because of the amount we pay in taxes. I most of us think we have better answers for how to spend our tax dollars. And I agree. BUT I have to laugh when I see some of the comments here about how to do this or that. Some of those comments are by persons that could not change their own tire or run a snow blower let alone drive a snow plow! Does the plowing schedule follow garbage pick up routes?

Wystan Stevens

Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 12:49 a.m.

In a related matter, it seems to me that the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority could do a better job of clearing snow between curbs and sidewalks in a two- or three-foot radius around their bus stops, so that patrons, including fragile seniors such as myself, can board the bus or disembark without having either to wade through slush or climb up and down slippery alps of white stuff. Perhaps some of the cooped-up residents of Washtenaw's jail would enjoy the chance to volunteer for a day's outing, with an opportunity for vigorous exercise with a shovel or snow-blower? Surely there is no excuse for the barriers of piled-up snow that remain along the curbs on Fourth Avenue, at the Blake Transit Center, FOUR DAYS after Sunday's storm . . . .

Sam's mom

Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 12:43 a.m.

My residential side street was plowed at 8:30 a.m. several times, making my driveway completely blocked by snow 20 inches high, and then plowed again mid morning. Yet, Geddes Road was not plowed by mid afternoon and I nearly spun out and fell into a ravine along the side of the road. It was very dangerous. I noticed that other major roads in town were not cleared either. Why my street so often and not others more central to the city?


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 12:41 a.m.

I do not understand or agree with the use of fire trucks to chase nearly every minor fender-bender accident, chase every ambulance, fill the Kroger parking lots to buy groceries. Putting snow plows on fire trucks would further add to the list of questionable uses of city equipment and personnel.

John B.

Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 12:38 a.m.

It's amazing how many commenters here are geniuses at running a City like Ann Arbor, especially during a major recession. My hat's off to you. We need more folks like you in Government!


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 12:35 a.m.

all I know is when I came to work monday morning there was a lot of snow on stadium and jackson ave but as soon as I rounded the corner past webers where the city limits ended Jackson was plowed nice.Seems the county didnt shirk their plowing.They have no money either.There was plenty of warning for the storm also

Patricia Lesko

Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 12:23 a.m.

On February 3rd I wrote about this (<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. The day after the first large snow storm every plow that went out went out to a section of the city that is in Ward 2. The areas in Ward 2 that were plowed first? Windemere Ct., Dines Ct., Sturbridge Ct., Severn Ct. and Prestwick, Ct. were just a few of the "major streets" cleared first after the storm, along with a small section of Earhart Road. Trucks didn't begin clearing streets on the West side of Ann Arbor until 3 p.m. on February 2nd. Multiple trucks, the first trucks dispatched, went onto Routes 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22, almost all in a single Ward (2), and to streets that are not "major," many of which are dead ends or cul de sacs. For the City Administrator to say that &quot;we were not anticipating the event we got&quot; is absurd. This is Michigan, not Miami. To say the streets can't get plowed because the plows can't be tracked? What? Plows are dispatched by a supervisor. To say the streets can't get plowed because Ann Arbor has &quot;fewer employees?&quot; Again, what? Get Hieftje out there with a shovel. When he ran for re-election, he made a point of constantly taking credit for &quot;streamlining&quot; city government so that having fewer employees wouldn't impact the delivery of city services. We haven't had a &quot;wet snow&quot; like this in a couple of years? Whopper of the Week. We're paying $80 million per year in property taxes to watch a three-ring circus.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 4:23 a.m.

Pat, thanks for adding to the conversation and linking to your blog post.

Ron Granger

Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 12:05 a.m.

SOLUTION: Give every city employee, including city council members, a shovel and a safety vest. Have them shovel snow. Problem solved... Or, at least the taxpayers will get some satisfaction.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 11:56 p.m.

Two snow plow trucks came at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday morning and made at least one pass around the cul-de-sac. The snow on the blade of the plow was thrown off as it made the left turn around the top of the cul-de-sac leaving a 5-10 foot wide bank of snow almost 3 foot high in places (especially on the right side of the cul-de-sac). This action made it nearly impossible for residents to get out of their driveways. At approximately 10:30 a.m. another large snow plow truck arrived and went round and round the cul-de-sac moving as much snow as he could into the center of cul-de-sac. It wasn't until during that the small trucks arrived and removed the snow from the center of the cul-de-sac and cleaned up the top of the cul-de-sac. When I went out at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning over half of the subdivision had not been plowed at all. There is no efficiency in re-doing a job. Do it once, do it right, finish the job and THEN move on to the next.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 11:28 p.m.

Oh... and by the way - if you start plowing BEFORE there is a foot of snow on the ground, you can actually GET AHEAD of the game! It used to be the case (pre-Hieftje, probably) that the city plowed and salted more or less continuously after we got a few inches of snow. You couldn't drive around the block without seeing a plow truck, and the streets weren't just abandoned until the snow stopped, as is the case now. If you need more plows, do what needs to be done for the benefit of public safety, and quit stealing money from other places to fund useless junk like the Dreiseitl Disaster.

sara savel

Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 11:13 p.m.

Dear City Council, Welcome to Michigan. It snows* here. A lot. Your job is to invest our tax dollars in the things that make our city functional and safe. Like snow plows and fire fighters. Why? Because you work for us. Got it? Thank you, Your Employer, Mrs. Taxpayer *White stuff that falls from the sky in winter (the long lasting cold season)


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 11:09 p.m.

&quot;He said the city found out about five or six years ago that it would have to make &quot;a considerable investment in equipment&quot; if it wanted to improve performance in peak storms. City officials decided against the investment for fear the equipment would be rarely used, he said.&quot; Oh, come on, Roger! You can always use a few more big dump trucks to help patch-up the abominations known as roads around here, come spring. These are among the most important basic services the city provides, and have clearly suffered over the past decade, as a consequence of Hieftjeism. And after the plowing and patching is under control, I'm sure these trucks would be roomy enough to haul the Folly Fountain, and all the Hieftjeites down to the nearest pawn shop where we might get enough $$s for a couple Tonka Toy trucks. OOOPS!!

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 11:03 p.m.

Add me to the list of folks satisfied overall with the city snow removal. I live on a short dead end street and while I sure would like to be the first one plowed I realize thats not possible.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 10:44 p.m.

sending out 11 of 14 existing pieces of equipment doesn't plow snow as well as 14 of 14 pieces of equipment. It has nothing to do with new big equipment, it has to do with incompetence of keeping the existing 14 pieces of equipment working!!!!! It has been a long time since our last snow fall, why are two pieces of equipment down?????


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 10:25 p.m.

In NYC they equip many city vehicles that already perform jobs such as garbage trucks with snow plows. This should be a decent option that doesnt require new vehicles. The other thing that would help would be for people to stop driving like they have never seen snow. Your front wheel drive car can't turn grip and accelerate/brake all at the same time. Get off your cell phone (you're driving something that can kill someone, your call can wait) and gps (learn to navigate), go to a parking lot and practice spinning out/ recovering and braking so you don't freak out and cause an unnecessary collision. This message isn't supposed to be offensive. I just really find some people do not understand how limited your traction in the snow is.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 9:31 p.m.

My 1998 Honda Civic with Consumer Reports best rated all season radial tires got around just fine. Didn't need a big SUV. I had heard the storm was originally predicted to be big and then was down graded to 1-3 inches. I was caught by surprise. I like the idea of hiring retirees or maybe contracting out additional snow plowing companies. How about putting blades on the fire trucks. Maybe putting blades on the front of the big police SUVs. If necessary purchase some older inexpensive equipment (older pickups with blades) that are only used as the last resort. Wouldn't cost much to have it sitting around until you need it.

John B.

Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 11:44 p.m.

The city already put plows on very vehicle where they determined it was feasible to do so. That's explained the article. I would definitely NOT want fire trucks plowing snow, personally, and I doubt it would work, anyways....


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 9:46 p.m.

Shhhh...the whiners don't like hearing that small cars properly driven got around ok in this snow...

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 9:12 p.m.

Brighton still hasn't cleared some arteries, so at least Ann Arbor is ahead of some communities around here. In terms of mass, this was one of the bigger storms in area history. While it wasn't handled particularly well (we knew it was going to be significant by Sunday morning), it was handled. And I understand why Ann Arbor hasn't purchased the heavy-duty trucks in this economy.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 9:09 p.m.

The city should get the heavier duty equipment it needs to get the job done. At least they are admitting there is a problem. The forecasting for this last storm was well in advance, on www dot wunderground dot com and www weather dot com. Don't these guys use the internet??? I knew on Saturday that there was a storm coming Sunday afternoon. How much more time do they need? Sure, the snow was wet this time. But hey. This is winter in SE Michigan. Use better plows all the time and it will be a good use of tax dollars. I think A2 approaches snow removal as a bunch of amateurs, thinking, &quot;well, maybe it won't be so bad this time, or maybe it will just be that light and fluffy stuff.&quot; If the city can't provide professional snow removal in a timely way, as the surrounding communities are able to do, they contract it out to the professionals. Forget fancy GPS systems. Spend the money on BETTER plows and MORE salt and sand. Get the brine and equipment needed to distribute it on the streets that other cities are using. Have a system in place for bringing on other city workers as drivers when there is a need for more drivers and OT during storms. This should be a priority for tax dollars. I have read several long term predictions and the next 5 winters are forecast to be as bad or worse than this year due to the el nino/la nina changes in the atmosphere and ocean surface temperatures. Get the heavy equipment now and make the budget cuts elsewhere, maybe some of those fat salaries and benefits can be cut to match the private sector.

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:58 p.m.

Great headline: &quot;Admit Challenges&quot;? Lol.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:55 p.m.

Enforcing a snow emergency would necessitate someone calling for the tow trucks and enforcing the declaration. While I would have no problem with that there are logistical problems. 1st not many would heed the declaration. Then you have the problem of a majority of wreckers that could handle the towing in dry weather are made for sitting on the road and winching cars out of a ditch, not driving through 10 inches of snow. And certainly not towing a car through 10 inches of snow. And the time it would take for each car would take so long that you would be lucky to get 1 car an hour moved and get back to get another. And you have to have a place that's plowed to put these cars. All you would be doing is making an example of a few. I do not have a problem with some being made an example but I don't think it would do much to solve the problem. One thing that might help if you are going to drive without the right vehicle, would be to. have boots in your vehicle, Have a small shovel,( a snow shovel is almost useless after you get stuck!)A small bucket of sand in the trunk. If you do all of this you might make it another 100 yds only to be stuck again. STAY HOME!

Bob W

Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:50 p.m.

I don't think the nat'l weather service forecasting has been that great this season. One they thought would be a bad one, turned out to be a whimper. This one was forecast as 2-4&quot; turned sour at the last minute. Guess that's how it goes. We didn't see plows on our street until 3:00 PM on Tues. I didn't think that was too bad. I realized we had been rotated towards the end of the plowing plan (which follows the trash pick-up schedule) because everyone already had their trash cans out Monday night and Monday morning. That said, I didn't think the response was bad. Judging from my own efforts at snow removal on this one, it took twice as long and twice the effort because of the density and moisture content. I'm guessing it was no easier for the plows.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:49 p.m.

I live on a street that goes into a horseshoe,if there was a fire truck call in here it would never make the curve. Because there abanded cars on the street with snow piled on and/or around them. So the plow leaves aboth a two ft path from the car and the other cars park out so far from the curb.... Good luck garbage truck getting through on Thursday A.M.

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:48 p.m.

So we can't afford trucks to handle Michigan winters but we can afford high tech tracking devices that will show us what we aren't able to do with our lack of trucks. We have money for no bid recycling contracts with tv cameras to monitor the trash (that went to political friends of the Mayor...maybe we could learn more about that) but don't have money for snow removal or a plan B when the forecast is off. No wonder Ann Arbor government leaders are such a laughing stock.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 4:20 a.m.

Alan, I've looked into the so-called &quot;no-bid recycling contract&quot; you continually reference and there's no major conspiracy there. Just an FYI.

Steve Hendel

Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:58 p.m.

What political friends of the mayor? Proof?


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:43 p.m.

Safety is where I would like my taxes to be spent on! I was proud to say that I live in beautiful Ann Arbor...but each year it's getting harder to say that. The streets are a disaster and downright dangerous! Last week I hit a pothole on a major street that could have engulfed my entire tire! The Stadium bridge looks like it will collapse any day! It is utterly shameful that the city is cutting funding on basic services!


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 10:27 p.m.

I just wish that the city would open the real books to show it's citizens where the money is going. Basic services seem to be an afterthought.

Bertha Venation

Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 9:25 p.m.

Ya, Miha. Tell ME about it. That's been my gripe for years. Thank our City Council for that!

John B.

Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 9:18 p.m.

Well, let's see: the costs to provide services are climbing, cities are cutting budgets and laying people off repeatedly due to the rate of increase of tax collections being far less than the rate of increase of providing said services (or in many cases tax revenues are even declining in real terms), and, oh yeah, everyone keeps refusing to pay more taxes and wants to pay ever-less taxes for ever-more and ever-better services. Mathematically impossible.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:40 p.m.

Maybe this will explain some difference in memory Two different forecast Forecast at 3:30 pm Feb 23 on National Weather Service site for Ann Arbor Tonight: Snow likely, possibly mixed with rain after 1am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 27. South southeast wind between 6 and 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible. Thursday: Snow likely, possibly mixed with rain before 10am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 38. Southeast wind at 11 mph becoming northwest. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible. Thursday Night: Snow likely. Cloudy, with a low around 29. North northwest wind between 10 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches possible. Friday: Snow likely, mainly before 1pm. Cloudy, with a high near 33. Breezy, with a north northwest wind between 15 and 21 mph, with gusts as high as 31 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of around an inch possible. Forecast at 3:30 pm Feb 23 on Weather underground site for Ann Arbor Tonight Mostly cloudy. Snow likely possibly mixing with rain overnight. Accumulations less than an inch. Lows 25 to 29. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation 60 percent. Thursday Cloudy during the morning. Partly sunny during the afternoon. Snow likely possibly mixing with rain through mid morning. Accumulations up to a half inch. Highs 36 to 40. Southeast winds 5 to 10 mph...turning to west. Chance of precipitation 60 percent. Thursday Night Snow likely. Additional moderate accumulations possible. Lows 27 to 31. North winds 10 to 15 mph...turning to northeast. Chance of snow 70 percent. Friday Mostly cloudy and brisk. Snow likely during the morning...then a chance of snow showers. Additional accumulations up to a half inch. Highs 31 to 35. North winds 15 to 25 mph...diminishing to 10 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 60 percent.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:33 p.m.

the snow removal was just pathetic regarding Sundays storm. i was able to get out on Monday only because i have an SUV and, even then, it was difficult and extremely dangerous. thus, generally back into the driveway until late Tuesday morning when the first plows hit the sub. re Sunday nite and all day Monday: even the major roads were nearly impossible to travel. Saw no plows anywhere. I saw several cars that when they tried to turn off the major roads into their sub stuck right there at the entrances - thus blocking the ingress and egress form the sub for hours. The City of Ann Arbor is supposed to lead by example re: City services. what a joke.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 10:24 p.m.

It sounds like your taxes went down so far that you can't get a decent service from your community anymore. Where oh where did that snow bucket go???

Anna Mae

Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:28 p.m.

Before moving to Ann Arbor, we lived in the Philadelphia suburbs and the DC suburbs. They did much better at dealing with snow. At Christmas of 2009 when Philadelphia got 2' of snow, most roads were cleared to pavement by the next morning. Here I'm lucky if my neighborhood is plowed in 2 days and even then it has been so packed down they can't get it to pavement. We keep an SUV because it is the only way we can get out. My husband had to lecture at a 9a class at University of Michigan so I drove him to work. I really question that the main roads had seen a plow twice by 6a. We left at 8a and Packard from Carpenter to Eisenhower looked like it hadn't seen a plow yet (and wasn't much better from Eisenhower to State). Washtenaw from Stadium to 94, had hardly seen a plow either. Meanwhile, parking lots and sidewalks that are done privately were cleared. Maybe the city needs to contract with some of these vendors instead of buying more plows.

Yeah buddy

Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:26 p.m.

I would rather they spend the money to kick start the Stadium bridge project until the federal money kicks in. In a few more days the thing is going to collapse.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:17 p.m.

And no snow emergency being called? Ridiculous!


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:16 p.m.

How about doing what Macomb County does--Contract city retirees who still have a valid license and the experience to help, to extend plowing hours, to make it around the clock? Win-win both ways! The city has been doing a terrible job this year. They no longer have to plow side walks, and should have the time and money . At the intersections in the subdivisions, they don't keep two lanes open! They do not plow until at least 4&quot; of snow, and do not sand or salt unless called to do so.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 9:41 p.m.

When did Ann Arbor ever plow residential sidewalks?


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:26 p.m.

Can you give more specific information as to how this works? I find it hard to believe that they could find enough retired personnel with a valid CDL license to drive trucks. Who;'s trucks? What about insurance? I can not find any info about this on Macomb county web sites.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:15 p.m.

I should add that they were saying we would get a significant amount of freezing rain or drizzle. But we did not get that on the west side of A2.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:15 p.m.

Do we want the snow gone? Or do we want touchy-feely fairness? In communities that are serious about snow removal, there are parking restrictions in place ALL WINTER. You can't park on the street at all, or you can only park on the even side of the street on even days and so on. Regardless, I found that AA streets were in better shape on Mon. than streets in several other Detroit suburbs were on Tues.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:13 p.m.

I think with A2 being such a &quot;green city&quot; the problem is that the city leaders believed Al Gore and thought that snow plows were going to be obsolete. ;&gt;P


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:13 p.m.

@ummsw It would not matter if a snow emergency were declared. Most would be to lazy to act or to think ahead and move their cars. I laugh at most cars buried because most of the time they should have known better! The same cars are buried EVERY time their is a storm. It seems that many leave home without a clue what is going on outside. Ignatz is exactly and completely right. And given the shortage of funds it would be foolish to invest in heavy duty equipment. @djm 12652 There is no one that watches the weather closer than I do. I did not see anyone forecasting more than 2-3 inches before mid morning Sunday. Weather channel Weather underground Local stations.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:05 p.m.

Instead of buying heavy snow plowing equipment and hiring the people to do it why doesn't the city contract this service out? They might consider contracting out the City Council jobs also!


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 7:56 p.m.

I live in downtown Ypsi and I could hear the snow plows coming down the street early in the morning. By the time I got up for work, our streets were free and clear, just as they have been for every other snowfall this year. By the time I got to Ann Arbor for work, I was AMAZED at how crappy all the roads were. It was pathetic.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 10:19 p.m.

The difference is simple... 29 square miles versus 4 square miles. I always divert my winter route through Ypsi from 94 just for this reason.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:24 p.m.

The difference is amazing. When I used to commute to school at EMU, I could always tell where the Ypsi road crew roads started. They were always clear. It has been this way, based on not very scientific observation, for many, many years.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:17 p.m.

So true. Ypsi definitely has it figured out!


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 7:32 p.m.

Not sure why Ann Arbor doesn't issue a snow emergency like other communities in SE Michigan. Seems to me it would be easier for the plows to get into neighborhoods (and around campus) if people would move their cars so streets can be plowed properly.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:19 p.m.

@apocalypZe10: I live in a neighborhood with no off street parking and I have moved my car either into plowed business lots near where I live, or have parked in parking structures over night and ridden the bus home. It's not easy when you have no off street parking option.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:16 p.m.

Because people go bananas when they are told they can't park their cars where ever they damn well want to, whenever they damn well want to. It is passionately shrieked about as though it was a right to assembly... that is why.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:15 p.m.

The city charges a fee to park on streets-so if I have no other choice where am I to move my car during a &quot;snow emergency&quot;?


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 8:04 p.m.

That's exactly what I was wondering. The towing charges alone would fill the coffers.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 7:28 p.m.

My street, side st on the west side, was plowed and salted yesterday curb to curb except for a few cars. The city crews did a great job. It makes up for the fair to middling service the rest of the time, but I'm not complaining just rating the service.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 7:21 p.m.

Lack of adequate forecasting? Perhaps the city should let someone come over to my house and check out the tv. I was aware of the impending storm as early as Saturday. According to the weather service and the weather channel we had a high probability of a minimum accumulation of 3-5&quot; by midnight and possibile freezing rain on top of it!

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 10:22 p.m.

they weren't predicting 9-10 inches


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 7:13 p.m.

The cries of, &quot;Give us perfect, immediate services&quot; can't be reconciled with the other cires of, &quot;Cut our taxes, we're all broke&quot;. It seems to me you're getting what you're willing to pay for; very good service for the average expected weather conditions and not too good service for more adverse situations. If the city did buy all that new equipment and properly staff it, then we'd all see complaints of all those powerful trucks and city workers just sitting there. As it is, I don't think any one of us could do a significantly better job. Certainly not to the point of balancing everything to the satisfaction of everyone.

John B.

Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 11:37 p.m.

Looks like the vote is 60 to 2. The motion carries....

r treat

Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 9:05 p.m.

We are not getting good service in any conditions and we certainly pay our fair share in this town. Please refrain from including &quot;me&quot; in your any one of us statement because i strongly disagree with your opinion. I do believe we can do a better job, and the towns close to us prove that with a tax base that pales in comparison.

Edward Vielmetti

Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 7:11 p.m.

@snacks - I wrote about the snow plow tracking proposal here <a href=""></a> and the council agenda item number was 10-1099, November 4, 2010. <a href="" rel='nofollow'>;GUID=50995B29-F6A5-4AEA-BC91-0DAFB8E8F9FE&amp;Options=&amp;Search=</a> you can watch the video of the vote, which resulted in the measure being passed after it was amended.

Matt Damon

Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 6:48 p.m.

Can't plow streets, but I'm sure that firefighting thing will work out just fine.


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 6:46 p.m.

The response to Sundays storm was indeed disappointing, but I do agree that the snow we got then was a very different snow. It was thick and extremely heavy and in no way a quantity of snow the current Ann Arbor arsenal was able to handle. I would strongly suggest that the city invests for some form of heavy snow removal machinery. It is better to be prepared than not.

John B.

Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 9:36 p.m.



Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 7:57 p.m.

Hard to imagine, right djm?


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 7:23 p.m.

Heavy snow removal machinery? In Michigan? Really? wow...


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 6:56 p.m.

Maybe that one person who goes to city council meetings and sings can actually sing about something meaningful and worthwhile and sing to get the city some better snow removal machines!

John B.

Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 6:52 p.m.

Maybe there should be a millage request to cover the new equipment? How likely would passage be?


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 6:44 p.m.

I was surprised that: 1. Our sub got plowed as fast as it did 2. Most the (major) streets downtown and by the U were in horrible shape well after our sub had been plowed