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Syracuse expands sidewalk snow removal from 20 to 38 miles

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media File Photo
A sidewalk snow plow earlier this year in Syracuse.

Updated at 3:00 p.m. Monday

The Syracuse Common Council has voted to expand its sidewalk snow removal program from 20 to 38 miles. The measure passed 7-1. This will be the first full season of the pilot program, which started in January. The city has budgeted out $250,000 for a private company to run the program. 

At a study session before the vote, the city's chief operating officer, Corey Driscoll Dunham said the city will study the program this season and see if it is feasible to do it in-house next year. She said the cost to run the program with Department of Public Works staff could total more than $357,000 in the first year.

Original Story 

The city began its sidewalk snow removal program back in January. City officials said it was a success and they want to continue building on that network. At a recent council committee meeting, Syracuse transportation planner Neil Burke said the focus is to deter people from walking in some of the city’s busiest streets when it snows. 

Credit City of Syracuse
City of Syracuse
The new sidewalk snow plow map. Blue are the new routes. Pink are priority routes. The tan areas are Syracuse City School District parcels.

“We want to provide a clear path for pedestrians as part of our transportation network," Burke said. "If you look at the map, these routes all sort of snake back together. So, we’re creating a usable network year round for pedestrians, based on safety, based on traffic volumes and based on where we know folks are going. Yes, we would love to include more streets, but there are chocies that have to be made.”

Burke added that schools, shopping centers and other high traffic pedestrian areas, were taken into account when they selected the new routes. But some councilors, like Bryn Lovejoy-Grinnell, said they want the sidewalks leading to schools to be the priority.

“The district sometimes talks about kids have a hard time getting to school when their routes aren’t plowed,” Lovejoy-Grinnell said. 

City officials were receptive to the idea and the new routes would cover more, but still not all, schools.

If the $250,000 measure passes, the city will use the same snow removal company, JSK Snow Services. The city was added to JSK’s liability insurance and the company is expected to hire a few additional city residents as workers.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.