"Totally unacceptable:" Alderman reacts after Milwaukee DPW explains challenges with snow removal
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – In a Public Works Committee meeting last Wednesday, the department stated it’s having staffing and equipment problems.
“It’s been a brutal time for all of us,” said Laura Daniels, City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works.
DPW is pushing through a few issues including an aging fleet of trucks and inexperienced truck drivers.
“Some of these people it’s a learning curve for them – a third of our drivers have less than 2 years and some of them, this is their first experience in snow plowing,” said Daniels.
It was also said in the meeting that drivers have a 12-hour work day behind the wheel.
“The snow removal operations are totally unacceptable and we heard from our own DPW staff as to the reasons why we are having trouble removing the snow for our constituents in Milwaukee,” said Alderman Tony Zielinski.
Following Sunday’s storm, drivers made their morning commute.
“They are better now but this morning they were rough,” said Tommy Messner, driver.
Others think the roads aren’t bad compared to other municipalities.
“I can honestly say I think Milwaukee roads were the best roads that I encountered. Best cleared, best salted, I was impressed,” said Robert Missey, driver.
While Robert doesn’t have an issue with Milwaukee roads, the hope is that DPW learns from each snow event and improves for the next operation.
“We need to make sure we have adequate plans to deal with this and part of the reason we are in the mess that we are in is we don’t have our funding priorities in place,” said Zielinski.
The City of Milwaukee DPW Jeff Polenske, Commissioner of Public Works, released this statement:
"This has been a very snowy month and we certainly understand that the public is getting tired of winter. I want to assure everyone that the Department of Public Works and it’s dedicated staff are committed to responding to what mother nature sends our way. We carefully monitor our performance and remain focused on getting our streets safe and passable in as timely a manner as possible.
The City of Milwaukee was hit with another 7 plus inches of snow. While the initial forecast of 3 to 5 inches was further enhanced by lake-effect snow, we have made great progress in clearing the 7,000 lane miles of city streets. Our approach with salting the streets through the early period of the storm is now showing its benefit as it is making it easier to get to bare pavement. Salt trucks have been salting and plowing the arterial streets since 7 am Sunday and once we knew we were going to likely get higher totals than originally forecasted, we initiated our heavier plow equipment operations at 1 am. We had 267 pieces of equipment and operators working through the night to clear our streets from this latest round of snow and we’re continuing to get at the side streets through the day. Our operation will continue over the next couple nights in an effort to get to the parking lanes during the overnight alternate side parking regulation periods and to clear corners and sidewalks adjacent to city-owned property. As is normal, we are also responding to calls from citizens to make sure we haven’t missed anything in our operations."