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Madison commission recommends expanding snow emergency zone for parking

Madison commission recommends expanding snow emergency zone for parking

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Shoveling car out of the snow

Morgan Leissring shovels out her car on North Carroll Street. If a new city ordinance is passed, Madison residents in some East and South Side neighborhoods would have to move their cars less often during the winter months.

Residents of Madison’s Bay Creek and Schenk-Atwood-Starkweather-Yahara (SASY) neighborhoods might not have to move their cars back and forth from odd to even sides of the street every day this winter.

The city’s Transportation Commission on Wednesday unanimously recommended approval of a new ordinance that would expand the snow emergency zone and exempt those in the zone from alternate-side parking rules.

Snow emergency zones are densely packed areas where residents can park on both sides of the street, except when there is a large snowstorm that forces the city to prohibit street parking on one side.

These zones also prohibit parking in certain areas, usually one day a week for around four hours, to allow for street cleaning or plowing as part of the Clean Streets Clean Lakes, or CSCL, sweeping program.

In all other areas of the city, residents have to abide by alternate-side parking restrictions — meaning from Nov. 15 to March 15, they must park on the correct side of the street from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. or risk getting a $20 ticket. On even-numbered days they have to park on the even-numbered side of the street; on odd days, they must park on the odd-numbered side. Some of these are also CSCL zones.

Charlie Romines, Streets Division superintendent, said this forces residents to switch sides of the street 120 days of the year even when it’s not necessary to keep streets clean.

“It is, no doubt, frustrating for people to alternate-side park for 120 nights a year when most winters you’re probably looking at 20 to 40 nights where it’s really needed,” Romines said.

Under the proposed ordinance, the SASY and Bay Creek neighborhoods on the East and South sides of Madison would be changed from alternate-side parking zones to snow emergency zones starting this November. Select streets around West High School that already have CSCL restrictions would also be added this year.

Additional neighborhoods would be added for the winters of 2020 and 2021.

2019 snow emergency zone.png

In orange is the expanded snow emergency zone that would go into effect for 2019 if the ordinance change is approved.  

SASY and Bay Creek would be added first because those neighborhoods are already CSCL zones, meaning there is a four-hour block of time every week for crews to clean up the street even when there’s not a snow emergency.

In order to add areas to the snow emergency zone, Romines said the city needs that four-hour block every week where the streets are clear so street crews can ensure snow does not pile up.

SASY and Bay Creek already have CSCL signs, which makes it faster to add them to the snow emergency parking. Romines said these signs can be modified this year.

According to the proposal, it will cost around $5,000 this year to update existing signs.

For the 2020-21 winter season, the proposed ordinance would add an expanded area on the East Side, an expanded area of the South Side and a large portion of the Near West Side to the snow emergency zone.

Total snow emergency zone expansion.png

In blue and red is the total expanded snow emergency zone that would go into effect for the 2020-21 winter season if the new ordinance is approved. The blue denotes the current snow emergency zone.

All of these areas would have the four-hour no parking time for some street sides year round. Currently, some of these CSCL zones are only enforced from May to November.

In total, the expansion would require around 900 signs at a cost of $50,000 to create and install them, according to the proposal’s fiscal note. Over the next few years, it would cost an additional $60,000 to $100,000 to add permanent signs.

The city does not expect revenue from tickets to decline with the changes.

The snow emergency zone expansion is set to go before the City Council for approval Tuesday.

Snow emergency zones are densely packed areas where residents can park on both sides of the street, except when there is a large snowstorm that forces the city to prohibit street parking on one side.

Snow emergency zones are densely packed areas where residents can park on both sides of the street, except when there is a large snowstorm that forces the city to prohibit street parking on one side.

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Emily Hamer is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. She joined the paper in April 2019 and was formerly an investigative reporting intern at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

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