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Bend business owners welcome city's snow emergency plan

People asked to move cars when emergency issued

Bends snow emergency plan

BEND, Ore. - (Update: Comments from city official, businesses)

The city of Bend is implementing a new plan to help clear streets when a snow emergency is declared by the city manager, which usually happens when private contractors have to be called out to help city crews clear snow, street operations director David Abbas said Tuesday.

"In a normal average year, the past couple of years, just to put it in perspective, we might have had two emergencies," Abbas said. "Last year was a challenging year, so we would’ve had probably five (emergencies)."

Because of that, the city has identified nine areas that have on-street parking and get really narrow and difficult to navigate when the snow starts piling up. In particular, downtown Bend, where Tim Simpson works as a barber at the Metropolitan Barber Shop.

"We have a lot of older gentlemen for our clientele, and so it was just really rough on them, you know when the snow was really pilling up on the sidewalk and trying to get over it," Simpson said.

Areas determined to be in snow emergency zones include:

Bond Street, Chandler Avenue, Portland Street, Courtney Drive, Conners Avenue, Broadway Street, Tumalo Avenue and 17th Street.

Most downtown business owners and employees, including Kourtni Perez at Princess Athletic, seemed pleased with the news and not too worried about losing customers.

"I think that our local Bendites are more than able to come downtown and cross country ski downtown, use their Yaktrax, she said. "I think most everybody likes to go in the snow, so I think everything will be fine."

The city asks that drivers pay close attention to signs and notices.

"If you know plows are coming, help us help you, getting your car out of the road, helps us do a better job of plowing your road," Abbas said. "Because, yes, if a car is there we're going to plow around it, we have no choice." 

Officials say they plan to make sure towing happens overnight, although that can’t be guaranteed and depends on snowfall.

Also, cars won’t be towed to make way for plows this winter, but it’s a possibility next winter.

Signs instructing drivers how to handle snow emergencies will be posted in the next month. And you can sign up to be notified at: www.bendoregon.gov/enews.

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City news release:

The city of Bend laid out its plans late Monday to begin phasing in a new program to designate targeted "snow emergency zone" parking restrictions aimed at getting cars off key narrow streets so they can be adequately plowed.

Last winter, with record-breaking snowfall, the city said it identified streets where on-street parking contributed to increasingly narrow roads that became challenging for two-way traffic flow.

This year, during declared snow emergencies, the city will ask that those targeted streets be cleared of parked cars, to help crews plow from curb to curb and prevent unwieldy berms in the travel lanes.

“Moving cars off the street allows plows to clear from curb to curb, creating a wider lane of travel,” said Streets and Operations Director David Abbas.

The city said the pilot project is likely to evolve in ensuing years.

Emergency Snow Zones for the winter of 2017-18 are: 

  • Wall Street (Portland Avenue to Colorado Avenue)
  • Bond Street (Wall Street to Colorado Avenue)
  • Chandler Avenue (Mt. Washington Drive to Century Drive)
  • Portland Street (11th Street to College Way)
  • NE Courtney Drive (27th Street to Conners Avenue)
  • NE Conners Avenue (27th Street to Courtney Drive)
  • NW Broadway Street (Franklin Avenue / Riverside Boulevard to Colorado Avenue)
  • NW Tumalo Avenue (Riverside Boulevard to Broadway Street)
  • 17th Street & Troon Avenue (Galveston Avenue to Mt. Washington Drive)

After the city manager declares a “snow emergency” (which generally coincides with private contractors being called to assist city crews), there will be a 12-hour period of time when parking will not be allowed on these streets. That allows for complete plowing of the street from curb to curb.

Once the street has been completely plowed from curb to curb, motorists will be welcome to return to the street to park during the snow emergency. 

To receive notifications when a snow emergency is declared, sign up for “snow emergency notifications” at www.bendoregon.gov/enews. (If you have signed up for other news notifications, you will need to go into enews and change your preferences to include emergency snow zone notifications.) Or, check www.bendoregon.gov if it’s snowing and you want to find out if a snow emergency has been declared. People can also call City of Bend Streets and Operations at 541-323-5980 to find out if a snow emergency has been declared.

During this first trial year of this parking program, the city said it doesn’t intend to tow cars. But if in the future, crews do have to tow to create safe streets, it will be at no cost to the driver and relocation areas will be identified, officials said. 

“Do your neighbors a favor: Don’t get plowed around,” Abbas said. “Plowing around parked cars can end up leaving a berm that would be difficult for a person with a shovel to remove.”

The Streets and Operations Department also said it is adjusting its winter operations to improve service this year. In addition to the Emergency Snow Zones, modifications also include changing shift schedules, reviewing priority snow routes, coordinating with other agencies and increasing staffing and winter equipment. For more information on winter street maintenance, watch the Winter Street Operations webpage.

Everyone has a responsibility to prepare for winter. Learn what to expect at www.bendoregon.gov/winter.


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