At 9 a.m.: Day 5 of Public Impeachment Hearings

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    Snow and more snow leaves some sidewalks unshoveled

     Wintry weather blankets the Philadelphia region. Firefighter Alberto Gonzalez shovels the sidewalk outside of the Fireman’s Hall Museum in Old City. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

    Wintry weather blankets the Philadelphia region. Firefighter Alberto Gonzalez shovels the sidewalk outside of the Fireman’s Hall Museum in Old City. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

    Property owners are generally responsible for clearing walkways and some cities issue fines for uncleared sidewalks.

    Cities are working hard to plow snowy streets. Sidewalks are an additional challenge. Property owners are generally responsible for clearing walkways and some cities issue fines for uncleared sidewalks.

    But Reading has stopped fining residents for not shoveling snow from their sidewalks. Why? Because Reading Public Works crews haven’t been able to clear the mess from the 100 city-owned properties, either.

    In Pittsburgh, Director of Public Works, Mike Gable, said crews are out plowing streets and putting down salt, and he expects sidewalks in parks to be cleaned. But beyond that, he said, it could be difficult because the city owns thousands of properties. “The magnitude of city-owned sidewalks is pretty huge. I’m not sure we can get to all of those, but we’re going to do what we can,” Gable said.  

    He said the city is sending out notices, but not fines, to people with unshoveled walkways, but only when complaints about specific properties come in through the city’s 311 system. 

    In Philadelphia the Streets Department has been checking sidewalks in high traffic areas, mostly business districts, and issuing citations as needed. Streets Department Commissioner David Perri said another problem has been commercial properties plowing snow from their parking lots into city streets. “This year, some of the smaller storms, we were seeing it happen more and more frequently, so we started issuing tickets for that activity and in the most recent storm we went back and checked those areas,” he said. “The tickets did their work because that type of activity had ceased.”

    Overall, Perri said he expects this year’s snow clearing expenditures to come in at about half of last year’s $22 million. That’s despite a comparable number of snow events – 19 last winter, and 17 this year so far. The storms have been smaller this year, Perri said. In Pittsburgh, the Public Works Department is in good shape, as well. It has more funding for snow removal than in the past several years. 

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