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Icy streets drive St. Paul residents to distraction; city pleads for patience

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Washboards aren't used for laundry much anymore.

You might enjoy seeing them in the occasional jug band or on the abdomen of some workout fiend.

But on the street in front of your house? No, thank you.

That's why so many St. Paul residents are giving the city an earful about road conditions in the Capital city. As KARE-11 reports, some of the comments on the city's Facebook page are from residents who fear for the safety of their children. Thick ice has left washboard-like ridges on many streets and left intersections treacherous for those traveling by car or foot.

City officials say there's not much they can do at this point and are asking residents for some patience.

They knew last week's storm was coming and prepared for it by having crews apply brine to the streets ahead of time – 6,000 gallons, the city tells MPR – to keep the snow form sticking to the pavement. But a rapid series of events foiled the plan.

The Pioneer Press reports it started with rain that washed away the brine. Then the rain changed to snow and left four inches on the streets. Even when the snow stopped falling the temperature did not, reaching 5 below zero and essentially locking the snow and ice in place. It doesn't help the frayed nerves of residents that the same thing happened in last winter's first snowstorm, the Pioneer Press notes.

Some of the angry comments on the city's Facebook page are from people who say Minneapolis streets are in much better shape, although others disagree.

A St. Paul public works spokesman told KARE that 14 crews were salting and sanding over the weekend. But he adds that the treatments are not very effective when the temperature is below 10 degrees, which is likely to be the case for most of this week.

By the way, if you're interested in the physics of the washboard effect and those little speed-bump-like ridges it creates, you can learn more here and here.

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