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Syracuse expands its supplemental sidewalk snow removal program

Ellen Abbott
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh announces an expansion of the city's sidewalk snow removal program.

The city of Syracuse is expanding its supplemental sidewalk snow removal program.

Heading into snow season, 25% more sidewalks will be plowed this year compared to last. Mayor Ben Walsh announced the expansion of the four-year-old program that puts a plow on 125 miles of designated sidewalks whenever at least three inches of snow falls. The expansion this year is focused on public schools.

"We are now able to get to routes to every school in the city of Syracuse," Walsh said. "So 36 schools, 36 routes, all of those will be included in the sidewalk snow removal program."

City of Syracuse

Neil Burke of the Department of Public Works took a deep dive into the data to develop a framework that connected traffic flow and pedestrian activity around schools.

"The way we’ve devised this is a network of usable routes," Burke said. "So these aren’t dead ends, these are things that loop onto each other, this forms an entire network of usable streets during the winter. So if you’re not directly on a route, you’re near one."

Walsh reminds homeowners this doesn’t let them off the hook, they are still required to clear sidewalks in front of their homes. The mayor, who’s been championing this program since he got to office five years ago, says it’s more than just convenience in a snowy city; it’s a matter of equity.

"25% of people in the city of Syracuse do not have access to a private vehicle," Walsh said. "So walking isn’t a leisure activity, it’s a way to get to work, it’s a way to get to school. We are creating a more equitable and accessible city for all."

"We want to be able to expand the program as far and wide as we can," the mayor continued. "It will depend on costs and other factors. So we’ll continue to grow the program and depend on property owners to continue to do their civic duty.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.