By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK – Department of Public Works Supervisor Matt Dohring told the City Council Dec. 13 that most complaints about side streets not being plowed were caused by parked cars blocking plow access.
“The problem that we are having is the cars on the street,” Dohring said. “I was out there when the storm hit, and I counted 300 cars and I stopped. We cannot get our plow trucks down those streets. The plows are too big.”
Dohring said all the plows have a tracking device on them, so they know how fast they are going, what streets they have plowed, and if they are stationary.
“When someone calls and says, ‘Hey, they haven’t been down my street yet,’ in return, I say, ‘Yes, they have,’ and I can tell them the exact time,” he said. “Then they change their story. ‘Well, when are they coming again to salt it?’”
He said the tracking system is invaluable during street sweeping season, too.
Dohring said the priority at the beginning of a storm is to open up the streets for emergency vehicles and to help people get to work. They will return later to plow the curb lanes.
He said complaint calls are usually about a driveway being plowed in.
“One guy told me his wife was pregnant, she’s got to get to the hospital,” Dohring said. “So I go talk to him. I go to the door, knock on the door. She’s like only three months pregnant. This is the stuff we deal with.”
Dohring said his guys have done a great job.
“I have six guys in my department, for 98 miles of road,” Dohring said. “But you consider going up and down those roads. They are doing about 500 miles of road. I know they want us to have these streets cleared within a day, but it’s almost impossible in our size of a city, with five plow trucks, to have it done in a day, especially that big of a snowfall.”
Dohring said people need to understand that if they shovel or plow their driveway before the street plows come through, they will leave snow in front of their driveways.
He said people step into the street in front of plows to try to stop a plow from going in front of their driveway.
“We are trying to stop a 40,000-pound truck,” Dohring said. “My guy freaked out like he was going to wipe this guy out, just because he didn’t want his driveway plowed in.”
He said he had another resident pull up in front a plow and block it with his SUV. Another time an older man waved down the plow driver, and when the driver rolled down his window to address him, the man threw salt in his face.
“My guys go through so much out there,” Dohring said. “You guys have no idea.”
He asks people to get their cars off the street when it snows, and to ask their neighbors to do so, too.
“It snows in Michigan,” he said. “Get your cars off the street. Bottom line. If we can get the word out there somehow, to enforce this, we can solve this problem.”
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)