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Politics and Government

Syracuse will implement sidewalk snow removal program with private contractors

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News (file photo)
An unshoveled sidewalk on W. Genesee St. in Syracuse, which is one of the identified areas for sidewalk snow removal.

As summer comes to an end, Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh’s administration is anticipating the problems that plague the city during the winter months. This year, the city will try a new sidewalk snow removal program.

It is a major concern among residents because pedestrians are forced to walk in the streets when sidewalks are covered in snow. Corey Driscoll Dunham, Syracuse’s director of operations, said the city will begin a pilot program to keep the sidewalks clear on 20 miles of priority streets.

Credit City of Syracuse
A map of the 20 miles of streets identified to have their sidewalks cleared of snow.

“These streets were identified by data that we received, that were high pedestrian areas, higher vehicular traffic that posed more of a safety risk to pedestrians and also neighborhood destinations like grocery stores, like convenience stores, like schools, libraries," Driscoll Dunham said. "So, this is just a first step.”

The city is requesting proposals from private contractors to do the work. But at a snow safety summit earlier this year, residents favored having city workers clear the sidewalks. Driscoll Dunham said that is still an idea they are interested in pursuing.

"As a first step though, we think that in terms of resources, logistics, operations, and also just lessons that we need to learn, we’re going to start with priority areas and then take it from there,” Driscoll Dunham said. "It’s a safety issue throughout the city. Pedestrians, students, children; there are a lot of people that walk in our city and we want to make sure that they’re safe.”

In the meantime, snow removal contractor Rick Kier of Pro Scapes said he needs some points clarified.

“Who’s going to be liable if somebody slips and falls on one of these sidewalks?" Kier asked. "Is it going to be the contractor who is supposed to be clearing it? Is it the property owner who is supposed to be doing it himself? Is it going to be the city?”

Credit Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media
Corey Driscoll Dunham (center) gives a presentation of the sidewalk snow removal program.

Driscoll Dunham said property owners along the routes are still responsible for clearing their sidewalks and the snow removal program is just a supplemental service. The goal is to have the program ready by December. 

There is no estimate on how much the program will cost, but it will come out of the budget for the Department of Public Works.