Tulsa City Councilor Calls For City To Treat Neighborhood Streets In Winter

Thursday, December 12th 2013, 6:27 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa streets should be all clear of snow and ice by now. Salt trucks and plows worked non-stop from Thursday evening until noon Saturday.

But one place they didn't go was into the neighborhoods and a city councilor wants to know why.

Councilor Jack Henderson said Tulsa needs to figure out a plan to help residents where they need it most.

It's a familiar scene when old man winter strikes town--city plows moving snow and spreading salt off the main streets--but the plows don't go into neighborhoods, except near schools, and Henderson says that's a big problem.

"A city the size of Tulsa should not fold because we have an ice storm or too much snow. We should be able to figure out a way to deal with that," Henderson said.

Councilor Henderson commends the city for clearing the arterial streets, but he said, once that's done some, residents are trapped in their neighborhoods.

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"When you think about it, if people can't get out of their neighborhoods, they can't go spend money. Taxes that the city normally takes in is going to go down," Henderson said.

The city says there are enough lane miles in Tulsa to stretch from New York to L.A. and back to Tulsa, with 500 miles to spare, making it a challenge to clear everything quickly. Add to that budget cuts and a hiring freeze, and the number of employees who are available to drive goes down.

"We're using everybody, building and maintenance, water and sewer, parks--we're using everything that we can scrounge internally," said Director of Streets Dan Crossland.

Crossland said a lack of manpower means the only option would be for the city to contract with a private company. He estimates that would cost around $400 an hour.

Henderson said the citizens he's talked to say that may be money well spent.

"And we got a lot of citizens paying a lot of taxes for those streets, and that's what they figure, they figure that they're already paying to get their neighborhoods cleaned off," Henderson said.

Crossland said, besides costs, there are other things to consider, such as whether the city would pass an ordinance telling people where to park, so their car does not get covered in snow, and whether the city or property owner would be responsible for clearing away the snow it pushes onto private driveways.