Evanston Has Spent 76% of Snow Removal Budget So Far This Year
First came the snow. Then more snow. Then came extreme cold, followed by rain and finally, potholes.
The storm that began on Dec. 31 and lasted until Jan. 2 left 14 inches of snow, and was followed by a second storm that left 12.5 inches of snow between Jan. 4 and 5, Robinson told city council members. City crews mobilized with round-the-clock snow removal operations, but the sheer volume of snow quickly racked up costs in terms of overtime pay and extra equipment rental.
"The quantity of snow we received during both snow events was not predicted to be as much as it was," Robinson said during a presentation on Monday. "This represents the second snowiest week when we compare it to the National Weather Service record."
Evanston's 26.5 inches of snow between Dec. 31 and Jan. 5 is 6.5 inches greater than the total snowfall during the blizzard of February 2011, according to Robinson. It's also 3 inches more than the average annual snowfall for Evanston.
During fiscal year 2010-11, the city spent $927,943 on snow removal, according to Robinson. That included $539,320 alone for the blizzard. In 2013, Evanston spent $715,917 on snow removal.
Already, the city has spent $519,972 of its $685,000 budget for snow removal, including $411,261 for the first two storms of January, Robinson said.
Beyond simply the costs of extra crews and equipment, the city had to deal with a complex parking situation that Robinson said was unique compared to other suburbs and the city of Chicago. While other suburbs have plenty of off-street parking and can enforce residential parking prohibitions overnight, she said that's tough to do in Evanston. Meanwhile, Evanston residents still expect the streets to be clear all the way to the curb (not just to the line of parked cars, as is typical in Chicago.)
For that reason, she said, the city did its snow removal in stages, asking residents to voluntarily abide by even/odd snow parking restrictions, and opening up city garages to residents for free parking.
Asking residents to move their cars on a voluntary basis was particularly important after the second snowstorm, when temperatures plummeted to 15 below.
"It really was too dangerous to be out in the early parts of the sub-zero temperatures," Robinson said. "We elected and thought that those who couldn't get out and move on a voluntary basis, we would plow around them."
As soon as the snow was cleared, another problem emerged: potholes. Robinson said city crews completed emergency pothole repairs along primary routes over the weekend, but were still working on other routes.