Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Snow and Trash

MinnPost's recent story on snow removal in Minneapolis and St. Paul had some enlightening information:

  • Minneapolis has 1,097 miles of streets and parkways; St. Paul has 1,874 lane miles. I was going to proclaim my amazement that St. Paul has so many more miles of streets than Minneapolis, but in writing this I realized that "lane miles" probably doesn't equal what Minneapolis calls "streets," so never mind.
  • Minneapolis spends $7 million on snow removal; St. Paul only $550,000 on snow emergencies. For that amount, Minneapolis also plows 400 miles of alleys (while St. Paul residents are on their own for alley plowing) but that doesn't seem like enough to account for the difference.
  • The two cities have similar numbers of snow-clearing machines on the street. So again, why is the Minneapolis budget so much larger? Is it an artifact of bookkeeping or budget categories?
As a St. Paul resident, I'm all too aware that we're on our own for alley plowing, as well as trash pickup. The plowing isn't too bad; together with all the neighbors who share the alley, we contract with a private company to plow for everyone. It costs about $25 per household per winter; kind of a deal, really.

Trash pickup is another story. Each household hires its own hauler, which results in five or six different 18-ton trucks going down our alley every week, not to mention driving on our streets, burning more gas than they would have to if there were only one truck in the neighborhood.

I haven't managed to organize my block or nearby neighbors into using the same service, despite a vow to do so. People are attached to their haulers, it seems.

So I guess I'll have to start harassing my city council member to bring it up as a city project to coordinate contracting within areas of the city. They don't have to change over to collection by public workers: just apportion contracts to different areas for each of the contractors that is already providing service. Only get it done more efficiently with less wear and tear on the streets, please!


Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Amen to unified/coordinated trash removal!

Peter Hoh said...

I wish reporters would try to make their stats line up. That is, the reporter should have tried to get comparable stats -- street miles to street miles -- rather than giving us an apples-to-oranges comparison.

My best guess is that a one-mile stretch of a standard city street is considered two or three lane miles.

Peter Hoh said...

Has the MinnPost writer been to both cities in February? She writes: "St. Paul may win the prize for sidewalks, but Minneapolis seems to have a better handle on plowing the streets."

No, no, no, no, no. St. Paul does a much better job of plowing residential streets. Minneapolis fails to plow residential streets side-to-side the way St. Paul does.

I think the writer was referring to the way the rules are written, but frankly, I think St. Paul wins in that area, as well. Yes, a snow emergency can last longer in St. Paul, but that allows for extreme snowfalls. For most of us in St. Paul, the streets are clear less than 24 hours after a snow emergency is declared. This is never the case for Minneapolis.