City Council woman Cyndi Lamm blamed the icy and snow-packed streets on what she called inflexible protocol and leadership in the Transportation and Utility Department.
Lamm said in a statement that “this appears to have been a failure of accountability for ineffective protocol and unwillingness to be flexible or allow flexibility to make appropriate adjustments.” Lamm continued to say that because of this unwillingness, “the Transportation and Utility Department failed to create an environment that allows the city to properly manage snow removal in varied or unexpected conditions.” The Council woman cited cost cutting measures and the lack of acknowledgement of mistakes and the changes needed to fix them.
Lamm did stress her support of the workers that are out plowing, saying “these city employees have been working long shifts, every day of the week for several weeks.”
City Attorney Jeff Kirkpatrick also released a statement saying the snow removal policy needs to change. Kirkpatrick compared the City’s snow removal to a test and to the surrounding area, “as I campaign door to door, I hear over and over again that Omaha and Lancaster County both do a better job of snow removal than the City of Lincoln. Snow removal is a basic city operation and if we view this last storm as a mid-term exam, it is obvious Lincoln would not make the honor roll.”
Kirkpatrick went on to say that Lincoln has a history of innovation and brings quality service to it’s residents, but change needs to happen. “Lincoln has a tradition of providing efficient services to its residents. That is because the city staff has repeatedly shown their willingness to innovate and to learn from the best practices in other communities. It is time to move forward and examine what other communities are doing with their snow removal operations.”
The City Attorney also praised the city and private employees who have been working around the clock to clear the streets.
Lincoln Transportation Director Miki Esposito and Mayor Chris Beutler talked to the media on Tuesday about the current snow removal process, with Esposito asking to keep the men and women working around the clock in mind. “We need to acknowledge and appreciate their efforts, please remember these are real human beings, they are spending time on snow removal away from their families.” Esposito said.
Esposito also talked about how crews couldn’t pre-treat the roads last Saturday evening due to the rain that preceded the blizzard. The challenge facing crews now is low temperatures. The Director said the cold is “making it extremely challenging to loosen up the snow pack and ice to see that dry pavement.”
Mayor Chris Beutler gave an update on the next steps for city crews, saying “our efforts are now focused on breaking up the snow packs and de-icing the arterials, to make commutes faster and safer.”
A residential parking ban is still in effect for odd-numbered addresses. A district parking ban will be in effect starting Tuesday evening at midnight, where parking is prohibited downtown, in the Haymarket, and other business districts.
You can find information about the parking ban and what streets are effected here: snow.lincoln.ne.gov
READ MORE: Snow Removal District Parking Ban Announced