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Relentless winter: Snow piles, narrowed streets create danger

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The big piles of snow throughout the region are creating headaches for motorists navigating narrowed streets, and concern about the ability of large emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire engines to squeeze through. With the cold temperatures, the snow isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so cities are preparing plans to keep roads passable.

"Absolutely it's a public safety issue," Mike Kennedy of Minneapolis Public Works told KSTP. "Access for emergency vehicles is being restricted."

The Pioneer Press reports the broad snowbanks have led the city of Minneapolis to institute parking restrictions on some city streets. While the city is not yet instituting citywide winter parking restrictions, it is posting no parking signs in some locations. Crews will plow particularly problematic streets in coming days.

WCCO Radio notes that the problem extends to the suburbs, where drivers backing out of driveways and turning corners are struggling with a lack of visibility due to the piles. The station reported that street crews in the city of Plymouth are out with snowplows to push back the piles along city streets and they’re using a lifted plow blade to sever the tops of the piles.

In Bloomington, city snow removal crews are working in some commercial and residential areas to haul truckloads of snow away. City crews crews are also knocking down piles so drivers have a clear view of oncoming traffic. The Bloomington Pantagraph reported street crews were out this week, using a grader to peel down the snow at intersections. The story also noted that the tall piles can cause snow to drift when winds pick up.

County workers have it a little easier because they can put snow in ditches, said County Engineer Eric Schmitt.

In central Minnesota, the St. Cloud Times reports snowplowing and road maintenance crews are working overtime.

“We’ve been moving snow away from intersections for visibility purposes, hauling a lot of snow from our county roads within the city limits,” says John Menter, public works director for Sherburne County.

The winter pattern of frigid cold followed by snowfall has made the job a challenge for road crews. The story notes that when temperatures reach melting level, it snows again.

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