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Is the city's snow plan working?

Posted: 5:31 PM, Feb 06, 2018
Updated: 2018-02-06 23:43:47Z

Courtney Caron is one of the thousands of drivers who travels on Dodge Street near 90th Street each day.

"It kind of got stuck, and I was kind of shifting in the lanes and I was like awesome — let's hope I don't die today," she said Tuesday.

She said she notices when she's sharing a road with a snowplow.  

"72nd was a nightmare yesterday,” Caron said. “But they've been on top of it this morning. It’s been a lot better."  

The city of Omaha is two years into its new snow plan.

Developed in 2016 with the idea of plowing more snow on the city's main arteries and leaving residential roads to contractors, the plan allocates more resources to roads like Dodge, but it doesn't mean drivers aren't inconvenienced by the weather.

"Our goal is to have main streets dry, and residential streets plowed 12 hours after the snow stops," Carrie Murphy, Mayor Jean Stothert's deputy chief of staff/communications, wrote to 3 News Now.

"Dodge Street is the No. 1 priority, from the Missouri River to 120th Street," the email states.  

The mayor's office also confirmed that 90th and Dodge was shut down briefly on Monday afternoon. 

"During yesterday's snowfall, our street maintenance supervisor Austin Rowser was at the 90th and Dodge intersection yesterday when police briefly closed the westbound lanes to assist a driver," according to the response. 

Yesterday's midday snowfall caught many, including Caron, by surprise.

"Most of the time, it’s pretty good,” Caron said. “I just feel like they don't get it until its later. Like yesterday — they didn't really start hitting it until 4 or 5 p.m., so it doesn't really help when I'm getting off work."

"Seems like anytime they get the roads clear, it snows again,” Thomas Armstrong said. “That's how it’s been lately."

While we can all agree clear, dry pavement is ideal. Many drivers do realize how easy traffic moves depends on when the snow falls.

"It’s not too bad when you go really slow,” Caron said. “If you go too fast, you're out of control."

From the mayor's office

Here's the full statement issued to 3 News Now on Tuesday afternoon from the mayor's office:

The improvements made to the city’s policies and procedures are based on input from citizens. 

A 2016 survey showed many people expected faster clearing of residential streets .  We now plow neighborhood streets after 2” of snow instead of the previous policy to wait until 4” of accumulation.  We increased the number of private companies under contract to plow neighborhoods and hired inspectors to monitor the work of contractors. 

We hired additional city employees, purchased new equipment and assigned city employees from other divisions to assist during major snow events.  These changes allow for city crews to focus on the main and secondary streets, which must be our priority.

Our goal is to have main streets dry, and residential streets plowed 12 hours after the snow stops.  We review our performance after each snow event and review feedback from citizens.  When necessary, we provide additional training to address frequent concerns.

Regarding 90TH & Dodge, Dodge Street is the #1 priority from the Missouri River to 120th Street. Public Works District 1 plows Dodge from the river to 52nd Street, District 2 plows from 52nd Street to 84th, District 3 plows from 84th to 120th (NDOT takes over West Dodge at this point).  The plows assigned to Dodge Street do not have other routes.

Our street maintenance supervisor Austin Rowser was at the 90th and Dodge intersection yesterday when police briefly closed the westbound lanes to assist a driver. He observed five plows passing through the 90th and Dodge intersection at the time, both eastbound and westbound and reported the plows had been working since the snow started at approximately 10am.

We encourage people to report specific areas of concern to the Mayor’s Hotline, we will create a service request and address it.  We also get and appreciate calls and emails thanking our employees for their good work. Many thanks to the men and women of the Public Works Department who have been working 24/7 to clear the streets and keep our citizens safe.