Some Eau Claire motorists who were ticketed for violating the city’s odd-even parking rules during Tuesday’s snow removal process could receive an unwelcome surprise in the form of a vehicle missing from the curbside where they parked it.
On Wednesday the city Police Department announced it would begin ordering vehicles violating parking regulations towed related to the storm Monday/Tuesday that dumped 10 inches of snow on the city. Also on Wednesday, city officials announced the issuance of another snow event that began at midnight and goes until 5 p.m. Saturday.
To prompt the relocation of vehicles preventing snow removal, the city also began posting temporary no parking signs at locations where plows can’t get through because of vehicles that made their passage impossible. No-parking violations supersede the city’s odd-even parking rules, and vehicles parking in those locations will be towed, police department public information officer Bridget Coit said.
Such measures are rare for Eau Claire, Coit said, but are necessary to allow streets to be cleared.
“Right now this could be life-threatening because emergency vehicles can’t get through those streets,” she said.
Vehicles that were ticketed Tuesday were eligible for towing even if they were parked on the correct side of the street Wednesday because they violated the city’s 24-hour parking regulation, Coit said.
The towing was necessary to remove some vehicles from locations where they blocked snowplows from clearing snow, she said, noting people’s failure to park on the correct side of the street during snow events “has been a real problem.”
Tickets for violating the odd-even policy, which cost $30, have been especially numerous during the past couple of weeks as the city has received record snowfall and plows have worked to try to keep roads clear of snow, Coit said. So far this month a record 28.4 inches of snow has fallen in Eau Claire even though the month is only half over. This year’s total topped the old February record of 28.2 inches set in 1936.
Owners whose vehicles are towed will be charged on a case by case basis, Coit said, and that amounts to about $180 plus an additional $10 per day for storage. Towed vehicles will be stored at A to Z Towing and Salvage, 1646 Highway F.
The problem of vehicles parked on both sides of streets, or on the wrong side of streets during snow events declared by the city, has hindered snowplows attempting to clear snow from roads, Coit said. During snow events declared by the city, motorists are supposed to park their vehicles on the even-addressed sides of streets between midnight to 5 p.m. on even-numbered dates and on the side of the street with odd-numbered home addresses on odd-numbered days. Odd-even parking is intended to allow plows to access streets to clear snow.
According to Police Department statistics, more than 500 parking tickets have been issued related to the Monday/Tuesday snowfall that dumped 10 inches of snow of the city. That figure could grow in coming days.
Those tickets come on the heels of the issuance of 751 such tickets issued in the wake of snows Feb. 6-8, police figures show.
City resident Will Riggs hopes to avoid one of those tickets and a towing. Late Wednesday morning he dug his shovel into snow drifted behind his car, lifted and tossed the white powder to the side, bent over and repeated that action.
A few minutes later Riggs, huffing and puffing from the effort, stopped for a brief break removing mounds of snow piled high around his vehicle. A snowplow had deposited the snowbanks around Riggs’ vehicle when it cleared snow from Niagara Street in Eau Claire’s Randall Park neighborhood hours before.
“This is going to take a while,” Riggs, 25, said, his brow sweaty from the effort despite the 20 degree temperature. “But I’ve got to get the car moved to the other side of the street before tonight. I don’t want to get a ticket.”
As snowplow drivers attempted to clear city streets Tuesday and Wednesday morning, many encountered vehicles that made removing snow from some side streets impossible, said Steven Thompson, city street maintenance manager.
Neighborhoods where vehicles in improper locations were especially numerous included the Birch Street area, the East Side Hill and Randall Park, Thompson said.
“We had a lot of areas where we had vehicles on both sides of the street, blocking the plows,” he said Wednesday, noting his department is notifying police about those vehicles so they can be ticketed or towed. “With so many vehicles blocking the way, last night was a tough plow, for sure.”
City plows finished clearing streets shortly before noon Wednesday, Thompson said. However, spot plowing will continue for the next few days, he said, to clean up portions of streets where vehicles have been parked and snow has accumulated.
Starting today, city workers will begin hauling snow from downtown and main arterial streets to a site along Galloway Street on the city’s far east side, Thompson said. Given the ample recent snow fall, “it’s going to take quite a while to get that snow hauled,” he said, noting some of his employees have been working on city streets for the past 20 days or so.
Tuesday’s snowstorm kept Eau Claire police busy. According to Coit, officers responded to seven motor vehicle crashes and 27 vehicle assists for getting stuck in the snow.
Snow flurries are predicted for Eau Claire today, but accumulations are supposed to be less than an inch. That is welcome news to Thompson.
“After the last couple weeks, I’m about ready for winter to be finished,” he said.