Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How does our city snow response measure up?

Calculations involved in Data Acquisition.  
City Hall in 2014 is experiencing the aftershocks in the wake of the shakeup of the 20-year long DeStefano administration, with the election of Toni Harp, the area's long-standing state Senator who took the helm on Jan 1st (see inauguration). In addition to a new mayor, we also have a new director of Economic Development Matthew Nemerson (who at the time of Night Rainbow was a candidate for mayor himself), and a new Traffic and Parking director, Doug Hausladen, formerly Alderman in the City of New Haven. In 2013, we also saw the departure of PublicWorks dir. John Prokop with the appointment of Douglas Arndt.

There are many new faces to the crowd of people in the best positions to lead the charge against snow accumulation with the dispatching of snow removal vehicles throughout the city.

Admittedly, you can't please everyone; side streets get overlooked and issues are not addressed for days as the laundry list of tasks surmounts into a queue that is unmanageable.

In order to assist, Nhv.Org writer Ian Applegate has the following suggestions to make, with regard to the approach of snow removal, for a better system:

  1. Issue Parking Ban Before Snow Begins
    Often, the city will wait until once the snow starts to issue the parking ban. The parking band should be implemented prior to the arrival of the storm, and ample notice should be given to all residents who are either in the downtown bloc or along any of the other Snow Emergency Routes listed in the engineering map you'll see (linked).
  2. Tow Left-Behind Cars to Nearby School Lots
    This is an interesting proposition; coincidentally, schools are not in session on the day of snow storms. That means that the parking lot is accessible to cars of people living in neighborhoods where those automobiles need to be off the streets in order for the plows to clear the lanes of parking, leading to additional spots being made available.

    It also mitigates the circumstance of disgruntled residents, whose cars were both ticketed and towed for a reason that many feel as though they were not given ample notification. Using a system (like the one described below) to help notify citizens would be greatly assistive and effective.

    It was also mentioned that towing not to a tow lot is against a local statute. That statute could be re-written by the Board of Aldermen to include an exception for Snow Emergencies. Schools are located conveniently within a certain radius of every neighborhood in the city.
  3. Micro-Manage the Plows A Little Bit More
    It was evident that the plows do not have any direction other than what they've been expected to do every time in the event of a storm; taught by the experience of their predecessors, most plow drivers are following routes that may or may not have been determined by a civil engineer. The official plow map does not give exciting examples of actual routes, nor does it particularly seem nuanced to the point where the information is accessible to any given plow driver.

    Clearly, the Downtown Bloc is the priority for the city. External routes elsewhere, as indicated in the Snow Emergency Route map, are also the same "Red" priority. Neighborhoods then become effectively contained by the Snow Emergency Routes in their area. It would be helpful, then, to design a snow emergency route map using the Emergency Routes as boundaries, listing each route at about a 5-mile drive, with the minimal amount of backtracking as necessarily possible (these were the goals of the plow game). 

When will we have snow again? Soon!  They're saying Wednesday. Until then, hope your car is dug out and your gloves keep your fingers warm. Living in a deciduous climate has its ups and downs, particularly with regard to temperature. We live for the transition seasons, like spring and autumn, because those are the times when you realize just how precious each moment is.