City: ‘We Do Not Plow Alleys’

Updated 02/04/11 – 12:40 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — City officials said Friday that its snow plows were still “working as hard as they can” to clear the city’s side streets, but said that plows would not be sent to clear the city’s alleys.

“We do not plow alleys. Plowing alleys … can force snow against garage doors and cause more problems than it solves,” Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Tom Byrne said Friday morning. “We are attempting to track our alleys with garbage trucks so that the vehicles can get into the tracks that they have to drive out.”

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mary Frances Bragiel reports

Earlier, mayoral chief of staff Raymond Orozco had said that snow plows would clear alleys after they’ve cleared side streets. Byrne said that was “a miscommunication.”

Many Chicago residents said they couldn’t understand how the city can plow side streets, but not alleys.

“We need more help from the city and I don’t think it’s right, it’s just not right,” Chatham resident Dennis Wallace said.

Wallace and his neighbors spent most of the day digging out three alleys in the Chatham neighborhood.

Neighbor Iran Edwards lives four houses down the alley, “so we’ve got to keep going until we make it.”

He had been at it an hour and had only cleared the sidewalk leading to the alley.

“There was big snow bank here, so you just have to do what you can do and take breaks in between time,” he said.

Neighbor Monte Wilson was so frustrated that he grabbed his camera, videotaped the mess and posted it on YouTube and Facebook.

“It would take an industrial snow plow to come get this snow out of here,” Wilson said. “I could understand digging out the back of your gate, the back of your garage, but the alley, it’s 4 feet worth of snow.”

In the Roseland neighborhood, frustrations were equally high and so was the snow.

Tony Claytor already has missed three days of work, and fears he’ll miss more if the city doesn’t clear his alley.

He didn’t buy the city’s argument that plowing alleys would do more harm than good because it would block garages with piles of snow.

“I think every resident in the area would rather have five feet of snow rather than 50 yards of snow. Come on, we can dig out from five feet. We can’t dig out from 50 yards,” Claytor said. “Just run a truck through here. Something is better than nothing to knock some of this snow down.”

As for the city’s side streets, Byrne acknowledged that not every side street had been cleared as of Friday morning, even though plows had been working on side streets since early Thursday morning.

“I would say the majority of them are open as we speak,” Byrne said. “I would say the majority of them are open as we speak.”

Byrne said that certain areas of the city were hit harder by the blizzard than others, so plows have been trying to get to those streets first.

“Depending on the road conditions, we might need to direct extra crews, snow trucks and heavy equipment from one site to another,” Byrne said. “Our snow-clearing operations are guided by the conditions that we encounter on the streets.”

Ward superintendents and division superintendents are providing hourly updates on the progress of clearing side streets across the city, he added.

Byrne noted that Chicago has more than 3,300 miles of side streets, so “clearing that much snow from that vast amount of area takes time.”

Meantime, Chicago Transit Authority President Rich Rodriguez said Friday that all CTA buses and trains were running on normal schedules again, including Lake Shore Drive express buses.

Rodriguez said there were no major delays reported during Friday’s morning rush, although trains on the Red and Blue Lines were crowded due to heavy ridership.

CTA workers were continuing to shovel out CTA bus stops, bus shelters and train stations.

“We’ve made lots of progress clearing our bus stops and shelters,” Rodriguez said, adding that 370 staff members and volunteers were working to clear bus stops and rail station entrances.

“We are steadily making our way across the system,” Rodriguez said.

Chicago’s airports also were fully operational on Friday, according to Jose Santiago, executive director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

Airlines were running full schedules on Friday and the roads, parking lots and parking garages at both Midway and O’Hare International Airports were fully accessible, Santiago said.

City garbage crews were also sent out Friday morning to try and pick up garbage wherever possible, Byrne said. Because city officials knew the storm was coming, Byrne said garbage trucks were sent to the city’s alleys on Monday and Tuesday to pick up as much garbage as possible.

Byrne estimated that trash was picked up from about half of the city’s alleys on those two days.

Trash pickup crews were back at full strength on Friday and would try to get garbage trucks into as many alleys as possible for trash pickup on Friday, Byrne said.

(CBS 2 Web Producer Todd Feurer and CBS 2’s Mai Martinez contributed to this report.)

  • Valerie

    They don’t plow alleys? They don’t plow city streets either. The 5900 – 6000 block of south Campbell hasn’t seen a plow. The snow is over 2 feet deep in the middle of the street. I called 311 to inquire about the snow removal from the street. They said they would report it. I called Alderman Joann Thompson’s office to inquire about the snow removal from the street. The person who answered the phone stated that it was not the alderman’s job to remove the snow, but it was the city’s job to remove the snow. Did I call 311? Well, isn’t it the alderman’s job to secure city services for it’s constituents or did we vote for the wrong person?

    • Defiant

      i def agree. i know one thing..IM NOT VOTING FOR NO ONE. yeah im usually a person to go out and vote and support, but this down fall here was way too much. taxes are high as heck, and no one has that charisma and courtesy to help their fellow brother, especially not the city vs residents. yeah i know they “may have been busy” but they werent that damn busy when our u/e rate is tripled than other state. so therefore NO EXCUSES!!!

    • Gee-reg

      Why not do like most of the people om my block did get your butt out there and shovel

      • StupidPeopleFTW

        Becuase people are lazy and just want someone to do things for them. As evidenced by the story about the people that cleared out their whole block in 6 hours. Why take matters into your own hands, when you can kick and scream about the city not taking care of you?

      • jamesw

        good for you and your neighbors. cannot understand why if someone is concerned about getting to work they and neighbors do not hire someone to plow them or shovel them out. always waiting for the government to do the job which they never do.

      • carlos

        we all did go out and shovel but we are waiting for the damn city we should not point fingers at the citizen of Chicago it is our damn STREETS AND SANITATION fault not ours that is why we pay taxes if you collect a check you pay a city tax we spend so much damn money to send these guys out i work on Cicero ave and in the past 4 days i seen city plows circling the same damn main street 15 times but my side street three days late has not been done that is not right.

      • MadSam

        I must say, that walking out to find my garage door COMPLETELY covered by a GIANT SNOW DRIFT @ 6FT TALL!!! At this point, my neighbor and myself combined efforts to move all the snow from between our garages only to get them cleaned and then find the alleys UNPASSABLE…yes it was a blizzard, and it’s darn cold out there, but where there is a will, there is a way!!!! A little team work, about 5 or 6 snow blowers and we freed one entrance way/exit to our alley…it’s not pretty, but everyone who needed to get out, DID, EVEN THOSE WHO CONTRIBUTED NOTHING!!!!

    • Rickey

      You should have gotten the person name who told you that, because the alderman’s are part of the city. It is alderman’s job to secure city services for their constituents. A lot of these alderman’s are too weak and their best interest is their paycheck.
      You should talk to Alderman Thompson yourself about your situation. I called (312) 744-3069 twice and our block was plowed around 3:15 this morning. Thank God.
      Good favor, take care.

  • Valerie Riley

    They don’t plow alleys? They don’t plow city streets either. The 5900 – 6000 block of south Campbell hasn’t seen a plow. The snow is over 2 feet deep in the middle of the street. I called 311 to inquire about the snow removal from the street. They said they would report it. I called Alderman Joann Thompson’s office to inquire about the snow removal from the street. The person who answered the phone stated that it was not the alderman’s job to remove the snow, but it was the city’s job to remove the snow. Did I call 311? Well, isn’t it the alderman’s job to secure city services for it’s constituents or did we vote for the wrong person?

    • KE

      You need to speak with your neighbors and get out there with your shovels.
      The City’s can not man enough peo-ple to be at your beck and call — you need to do some things for yourself.
      And as for your Alderman — vote her out!

      • fed up

        @ ke 75% of my neighbors don’nt understand english , and when they shovel they throw it in the street or on my garage apron one even had a plow and dumped it into my garage door and i,m always friendly to them imagine if i were a crab. this is a different society today ke, and besides theres no place to put the snow they need backholes , hiighlifts and dumpsters , i seen burbank had 4 back holes and 1 dumpster in one block removing the snow plowed off to the side , wheres are tax dollar going. i agree vote tese worthlesss aldermen out half are useless…….

      • Kristine

        An alley is a public thru-way and funded with taxpayer money. The City should maintain it as they do any other public thru-way. It’s not someone’s job to shovel a public road way.

    • jesusanalrape

      Or you can get a shovel and get to work. Do you and all of your lazy neighbors always wait for everyone to do things for you? As a Chicago resident, you should know not to expect much except a speedy removal of only your money. Be self reliant. GET TO WORK

    • MadSam

      Alerman Dougherty, up around SuperDawg, is a JOKE!! After joining forces with neighbors to clear paths from houses to alleys & streets, WE STARTED CLEARING A PATH DOWN THE ALLEY…OURSELVES!!!! In my old neighborhood, we had an ALDERMAN TERRY GABINSKI…NOW THIS IS ONE STAND UP GUY!!!
      He made himself available to his constituents, NOT JUST ON VOTING DAY EITHER…the work ethic of most aldermen these days is LACKING!! You call and call, leave a message with a human secretary if you’re lucky and then NOTHING HAPPENS, 1 week goes by and then 2, AND STILL NOTHING!!!

  • laura

    no one wants to hear your bull after being confined for4 days.

    • John

      Talk about exaggeration, it has still only been two days since the snow stopped. How is it that you have been confined for 4 days?

  • laura

    the plows has been down some streets and one stiill cant get throught,are they doing them fast to getdone?

  • Jim

    I would rate the snow removal a F. I think the plow drivers are just trying to rack up the Overtime and make some money from this. The MAIN roads should be done by now!

    • dweller

      I was shocked to see snowplows on cleared main streets just driving back and forth, plows in up position, not throwing down any salt. Just wasting taxpayer money. They were doing that yesterday afternoon for hours and today. I recognize the same drivers, some of them park along the streets in front of my apartment building for 2 hours. As you said, racking up the OT.

  • fed up

    the aldermadic elections are soon , this is a good time on election day to vote them out , each ward was was given a high lift and its up to alderman where to use it, on the east end of the 23rd ward its a mess i saw no plows on the side streets no snow removal equipment lot of streets are in passable , who’s this byrne think he’s fooling ! put picardi back in he’ll show him how to remove the snow at least he does’nt lie to us . zewlewski turned his nose at a lot of ppl on this one as is some other ald. remember ellection day is nearing folks your ald is your community rep , we have to many yes men for da mayor whom botched this blessard snow plan up worst than 1979 ,guess he believes everything byrne is telling too……..

  • J Burt

    WOW!!! That is a terrible answer, you don’t plow alleys. So the alleys must not be part of the city and they seem to be treated different. It is amazing if the alley needs to be repaved the homeowners are charged a fee for fixing the alleys. As much property taxes the home owners pay, they could at least get snow removed. So I guess it is ok for property owners to pay someone to removed snow to get ourselves out of the garages and free.

  • Tony

    Valerie, don’t you know this is Chicago, iL. The poiliticians don’t do anything except get money. Watch what happens when the garbage starts to piling up and then they will say the same thing. Chicago politicians are full of sh– and so is the city of Chicago. As much taxes we pay here they should have been cleared by now, all over the city.

  • mr.brown

    we need better people who want to work city do/y ploy side streets either but they want ours tax dollars they need to be fired now is the time

  • MrPlow

    Well Valerie, break out the shovels and dig out. Thats what we did in my neighborhood the minute it stopped snowing and really brought the community closer together.

    • mr shovel

      mr plow thats what most of us do and have for the 50 yrs i been in the city , however unlike the snow of 67′ when it warmed up in a few days and melted down , we were not as lucky on this one with arctic temps! did’nt give ppl much time this snow storm ranked 3 in the totals with drifts 4 ft high like in 79′ temp wise , everyone was out there – the city is more populated dispite what officals tell us and there is no place to put ithe snow to many ppl gettig stuck and hurt. this is why our tax dollars pay for this equipment and manpower they’re feeding us a bunge of hogwash they’re not doing a good job dailys out and don’nt give a hoot now ! after 21 yrs of our support , put the alderman and so will have to live this one out if they get re elected .

      • MrPlow

        I agree with you mr shovel. We live in a 3rd largest city in the U.S. and we pay for everything and we should expect more and we deserve more. Yet, haven’t we learned that we cant rely on the city for everything. I understand the frustration and complaints, this is why people should get involved and show an interest in elections.

      • Gerald Spencer

        Everyone who makes a comment about their alderman has a point. Each alderman gets a chunk of the city budget to provide certain services at their discretion; additional snow removal is a possible line item for each alderman. They should also remember, aldermen help each other.

  • Eileen Janavicius

    I live on 33rd st west of Halsted. It is a one lane-oneway street going west. It has not seen a plow.. There is a one block long street Green St, The snow is 3 feet high at the intersection. WE CAN”T GET OUT

    • southsider

      That makes it even more dangerous when citizens can’t get out, emergency vehicles can’t get in.

  • MichaelSteelesStache

    I think this article gave a pretty clear explanation on why its not a good idea for the city to plow the alleys. Lets just say the city did plow the alleys, then this article would be about peoples garages and back gates blocked by a 6ft mound a snow and everyone would then be complaining about that. I think we need to keep in mind that were not the only person in this city.

    • mr shovel

      @ michael mayor daley has a ton of hired trucks on contract with smaller plows , they can at least take down the ridge . plus in alleys where they hired unexperienced plow drivers as always they dumped mounds of snow on the inlet and outlet sides the city can at least use back holes and remove it thats where many are getting stuck or stranded causing a mess , and they also have high lift and and snow extracters to blow it into dump trucks they did it in 00 and 79′ i give the city and fff – the ald should get on there horse’s…………

  • Angela

    So if the neighbors get out and shovel the alleys where is the snow going to be put? I think it is a shame the city won’t take care of the alleys. What about the seniors, those who live alone, the disabled? Everyone can’t shovel !!! I called a lot of private companies and most said that they would not touch the alleys because it is city property. I give this snow removal an F also.

    • MichaelSteelesStache

      No doubt, the elderly or disabled cant bare the burden nor should the be expected to. I think thats where the kindness of a neighbor should come into play. Where is the snow going to go if they plowed. Think of where the snow goes when you have to much snow on your shovel, it runs off the sides, which would be peoples garage doors.

    • mr shovel

      @ angela i agree with you 100% lot of co.s won’nt touch it , even on privite property in this kind a weather they won’nt cause of prperty damage , thats what some told me anyway when i called to have my drve plowed out. show ur alder man how you fill on election day if you can’nt make it to vote (which they most likly want this yr) call the bd of elections and vote absentee no questions asked. at 312 269-7967 they’re nice people and they will mail it to ur home. hang in there dear……………

    • Gerald Spencer

      A private company would not take your money? Where do you live?

  • fred the garbage guy

    if you pass me a fifty dollar bill ,
    I’ll clean your alley !
    otherwise , I’ll be at rosies beef ,
    eating and drinking coffee !
    and , don’t bother me till I’m
    done eating and reading the
    paper !

  • Patient--NO MORE

    this is unacceptable

  • Danny R

    I remember back in the day when CTA used to plow the main streets! Much better job back then, before all this beaucratic bulls— took over the chores. Come to think of it, CTA was so much the better back then, too! Oh well, now its politics and taxes, and the Cook County Treasurer (see CBS News…)

  • jesse jr.

    In 1999 Daley was running for reelection.HIGHLIFTS AND DUMP TRUCKS


    That’s the run-around they give you every step of the way.

    It’s not our responsibility, it’s their responsibility. Then when you call “them” they say it’s not their responsibility either but it’s this department’s responsibility.

    WGN news at noon keeps telling us to call 311. 311 is a constant busy signal from morning till evening.

    Offering no help. Stonewalling the taxpayers every step of the way. That’s all they do.

    Their message is loud and clear: dig yourself out. Dig your street out by yourself. Dig out your alley by yourself. We don’t care.

  • Gerald Spencer

    Yesterday’s CBS2 6PM news started off with a woman claiming the street behind her hadn’t been plowed. Yet, if you look at the snow in the street, see there is no snow the sidewalks, nor on the cars, nor around the cars, nor at the curbs. There is a two foot pile of snow the residents moved into the street. Why should they expect the city come back through to clear that mess? Why did CBS2 have that woman reporter perpetrate that bit of fraud?

  • C.I. Fransen

    I’m a CPS teacher and am still housebound. The snow to my doors, my sidewalk to the garage and my front sidewalks are still 2 to 4 feet deep. I can only do a little shoveling due to health considerations. How can I get out? Is there anyone I can go to for help?

  • jim

    Chicago USED to know how to get it right. Now all these hacks do is stand in front of tv cameras and tell us how great everything is.

  • Ken Watson

    I feel like laughing at what the city said right now.

  • BeBe

    In 50+ years I don’t recall the city plowing the alleys. However, an Alderman (in yesterdays news) DID hire a private company to plow the streets in his area. He paid for it from his allowance as an Alderman. They all receive moneys to be used in their wards. Why didn’t other Aldermen do the same?

    You cannot have it all your way. Pick up a shovel and use all that energy to do something useful … like shoveling. Register to vote for a different Alderman instead of listening to others and voting in the same person year after year. Take your complaints to where they will do some good for you and your neighbors. If you see truck drivers sitting and doing nothing … if it’s not their lunch break …write down the license or truck number and report them. Make yourself heard where it counts and stop thinking you are entitled to everything.
    Next thing you will want someone to dictate to Mother Nature how to do her job. Give it a break!!!!.

  • Rowwdy

    That is bull about alleys not being cleared. They are technically 911 access right of ways and are to be kept cleared. As for the Aldermen, they either work for THEIR constituents or they don’t. I always remind mine, elections will be coming around.

  • Tara Williams

    “I Survived Chicago Blizzard of 2011” T-shirts, Caps and Bumper Stickers are selling on the internet! LOL! Talk about comic relief, these are too funny:

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live