Saturday, January 05, 2008

Pardon me while I rant about the dismal state of snow removal in Madison

Snow Removal in Madison
They were removing the snow mountains from the corners near my home the other morning. It's high time -- nobody can see around the corners, and on the snow-narrowed residential streets of downtown Madison, you're taking your life in your hands just pulling out into an intersection.

Don't get me wrong -- I have nothing but the highest respect for the overworked men and women who have labored so long and hard to try to clear our streets this winter. I don't see how they could possibly do more.

What I'm upset about is their management. From insane roundabouts that aren't designed for this climate and create a major obstacle for snowplows, to an underfunded fleet of the wrong sorts of snowplows, snow removal has been a real mess this year. It's as if city officials from the mayor on down gambled that winters would always be as mild and snow accumulations as light as they were in recent years. As a result, they let cycle times deteriorate in a way that spelled trouble in a hard winter. In effect, they were gambling that they were on the right side of global warming.

And now we're about to encounter another ugly consequence of their lack of foresight. Starting tomorrow, the weather forecasts call for serious warming and a lot of rain. The streets are going to be full of water with no place to go. That's what storm sewers are for, but if my neighborhood is any indication, the drains are all buried under deep, icy snowbanks. Have the overworked city crews had time to go back and clear them out? Of course not.

That's why I've got to go now -- have to start chipping away at the layers of ice and snow covering the storm sewers in front of my house and across the street, where nobody's home. I figure if I keep chipping away, a little bit at a time, I have a fighting chance of burrowing through by tomorrow.

If not, I'll probably be living in a lake in a day or two.

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