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19 January 2005 @ 07:15 pm
Things that chafe my ass - anal local government edition  
Quiz time! What would you say is more dangerous to the public?

A. Unsalted roads that are cruddy enough to slow traffic down significantly.
B. Two inches of unshoveled snow on my sidewalk.

And can we guess what State College Borough seems to concern themselves with more? After a crappy drive home today, I found a nice little note warning me about my uncleared sidewalk, which royally cheesed me off. I know damn well there wasn't much at all on said sidewalk yesterday and the roads were getting nasty this afternoon. If they have the time and resources necessary to drive all around town and examine every single privately owned sidewalk to such a degree, why the hell do they seem incapable of a more productive wintertime safety endeavor such as observing the conditions of major roads so they can send salt trucks around BEFORE the roads turn to shit? It's not like there are that many major roads within the borough. All it would take is one person driving around for maybe an hour tops if the traffic is bad. Ya know, perhaps it would behoove me to write about this (in a much more polite fashion, of course) to someone who actually makes policy around here. I just had to bitch about it here because I'm cranky now. =P
Current Mood: grumpygrumpy
Englebert Slaptyback: Your Cheat A Splodedrjayphd on January 20th, 2005 12:34 am (UTC)

You'd think they'd be more worried here about the lack of sidewalk (thanks to the plows chewing up half of it two years ago) and the stump that kids on their way home from school just HAVE to climb and jump from... morons. At least no one's complained to us. Yet.
Shikgonadsandstrife on January 20th, 2005 01:19 am (UTC)
Time for my annual winter rant.

It's not State College. It's your entire fuckheaded state.

In the winter of 2001-2, I was working at a Unimart doing overnight shift whereupon I had the opportunity to speak with a road crew that had stopped in for coffee during a snowstorm.

I explained to them that I'm used to snow, that I grew up in western CT, & that I know what it's like. I said that I had never seen traffic come to a 5 MPH crawl because of snow in my life. I said that in CT, the way it works is that the state & the towns split the plowing as such:

  • The state plows the main roads (because so many of them AR state roads, like 26 & 322 & the like) & they come through every 15 minutes with 2 trucks--the first plows & salts, the second sands. Every fifteen minutes like clockwork.
  • The state & town split the secondary roads usually with only a single truck & hit those every 30 minutes.
  • The town gets to the smaller tertiary roads on an as-can-be-hit basis.

    I also noted that the road crews are put on call for impending weather & get severe amounts of overtime & specialty pay (what amounts to "hazard pay") & that it is very rare that the town is shut down because of lack of ability to move. Then I ended with the question of, "WHY DON'T YOU DO IT LIKE THAT?"

    I was told the following things:

  • The state trucks ARE NOT ALLOWED INSIDE THE BOROUGH. If they plow 26, they have to turn around at University Drive & go back out.
  • The drivers do not get the call UNTIL THE SNOW STOPS. They can come in if they like during a storm, but they are not required to show up until the end of the storm.
  • The standard policy for every level of government--from state to township--is to wait until the end of the storm for cleanup, regardless if a town is effectively shut down. Regardless of the need to continue operations, regardless of the possibility of safeguarding lives, they will not start until it ends. They find it "easier" in terms of management & finances.
  • There is no requirement that the roads must be completely cleared. As long as there is a viable pathway for transit, it is considered "acceptable." That's why they never plowed the roads that have been "driven through" (noted as being brown slush or hard-packed snow) or only plow a single lane on, say, highways. Regardless of the fact that this shit melts & refreezes several times over the course of the storm & the next few days (which is what caused my first accident 3 years ago) & the potential consequences of it. If something happens, they say it's your fault & not theirs because they've "done their job" & you've "taken the risk" of heading out.

    So that's how that is. fuck them & send their asses a nailbomb. That's my plan.
  • teh j00: mrs woolfj00licious on January 20th, 2005 01:49 am (UTC)
    Do you even LIVE here anymore?
    Shikgonadsandstrife on January 20th, 2005 06:15 pm (UTC)
    As a matter of fact, yes. I do. Granted, some things may have changed since that winter, but not a whole lot as I see.
    The Heavy Metal Matador: frylockrydain on January 20th, 2005 03:35 am (UTC)
    That certainly explains it. I grew up in Pittsburgh, and though it sometimes took the city a while to get around to clearing our street because they worked from the main roads to the smaller ones, at least they didn't have any sidewalk rules that I can remember. I wonder if some policies have changed, though, like that whole deal about waiting until the end of the storm before sending out trucks. When driving home from work, I saw plows out on 322, but the streets within the borough were untouched. They cleaned them up sometime before 8:30 tonight. (I went out, and they were OK.)

    Sometime early in 2003, we got hit with a crapload of snow. I swear there was at least a foot and a half of it on my sidewalk (and a lovely sheet of ice over an inch thick underneath it all). Because that was just so much fucking snow and ice, I made a path wide enough for any normal sized person to walk through. People in Pittsburgh would usually do that when there was a ton of snow, and nobody seemed to complain. But no...I got a warning because the entire width of the sidewalk has to be clear. Now that I read about the viable pathway for transit guideline, assuming that's still in place, that incident makes me even more irritated. Why is my lightly traveled sidewalk held up to much stricter cleaning standards than a road that hundreds of people drive on? I'm guessing that it has something to do with making the sidewalk "look nice" (which is also why they have rules about cutting your grass and weeds as well). I'm also guessing that because the borough doesn't have to pay for removing snow from residents' sidewalks, it doesn't give a shit how little sense the standards make.

    Eh...I really do like my house and my neighborhood (it's quiet and tree-lined and literally just a mile from the center of campus). I just wish the borough would go to Walmart and buy a clue. I can understand having reasonable regulations for the sake of safety, like "no big ice patches without anti-skid material", but they ought to get the street snow removal in gear before fussing over my damn sidewalk.
    (Deleted comment)
    The Heavy Metal Matador: frylockrydain on January 21st, 2005 05:11 am (UTC)
    Oops...I just realized I forgot to mention that it's a warning that you'll be fined if you don't clear off the sidewalk enough. They could very well be trying to help prevent slip and fall lawsuits, though, because I wouldn't be surprised if somebody could successfully sue you if your sidewalk still had some snow on it and they fell down and hurt themselves. I don't understand why the same standards don't seem to apply to roads around here, but maybe I can ask my mom (an attorney) about that next time I talk to her.

    At least it hasn't snowed too much today. We'll probably get hit this weekend, but we'll be around to shovel (or perhaps we'll be lucky and some random students will show up and we'll pay them to do it, which is what happened after one particular heavy snow last year).
    sinistarfithsinistarfith on January 21st, 2005 03:21 pm (UTC)
    Brandy and I spent a year living within the borough. During that time, we had sidewalk warnings, grass height warnings, and rear end of car parked only slightly over sidewalk warnings. That's why we spent only a year living in it.

    Friends of ours now are having a hell of a time. They just bought a house in the borough and were in the process of moving into it. Since they were remodeling a good portion of the indoors, they had to stow a number of their boxes in the driveway, which left little room for vehicles. One vehicle had the rear bumper about 3-6 inches over the sidewalk because they couldn't pull it up any farther. Fined. So they've had their jeep parked at our house for the past month. They have also already been fined for having a visitor's vehicle parked on the street (when they had already gone to the trouble of getting permission from the borough to do so), were fined and had to get special permission to expand their driveway so that their vehicles weren't over the sidewalk (they were fined because they parked a car in the yard to avoid the sidelwak fine). And I would imagine they're now feeling the pain of the snow situation.

    I'm not sure, however, that people from the borough actually just drive around checking things. I think it also comes down to people in your neighborhood reporting the infraction. That's just my gut feeling, though, but I always noticed neighbors looking out their windows triumphantly when we would receive a notice on something.