Assembly committee meetings to focus on how to better prepare for big snow events

Southcentral snow removal updates
Assembly committee meetings will focus on how to better prepare for big snow events
Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 7:50 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The ample snow this winter has Anchorage Assembly members and Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration agreeing on something: it’s important to look back at the decisions made this winter to see what was done well, and what can be improved upon.

“It’s a balance and this is the nature of the job,” Bronson said. “Yeah, I’m getting a little beat up for it, but that’s my job to take that and find the best path forward.”

Mayor Bronson is calling the snowstorms in early December a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence and says he stands by his decision to not hire extra workers or buy large capital equipment for snow removal.

Assembly Vice Chair Chris Constant disagrees, saying such instances — with storms feeling like they’re overwhelming staff — could easily happen again.

“I think that anyone who suggests that this is the only time this will happen in our lifetime isn’t paying attention to what happening,” Constant said. “It’s our weather. It’s been becoming more and more volatile, rapid changes of temperature, rapid changes of, you know, condensation, snow, rain, and so I think the new norm is that we’ll be seeing more of these.”

Bronson maintains purchasing plowing equipment that the city would only need on a limited basis doesn’t seem worth it to him, and as of this week, he says city municipal street maintenance crews are deep into what they call “haul-out mode.”

“We’ve plowed the streets, now we have to put the snow somewhere,” Bronson said. “We’ve opened up our snow dumps, we’ve done extra contracting with haulers.”

Bronson says he does want to go back and revisit the planning for winter to see if there are things that can be done better in the future.

There are scheduled Assembly committee meetings Wednesday and Thursday that are set to be centered on snow removal. Assembly member Daniel Volland said he’s invited some people that are either visually impaired or have a disability to voice their opinions at the meetings.

“Really, I think as community members are allowed to share their stories, it will impress upon us the importance of timely snow removal, and that we will prepare for that in advance for next winter,” Volland said.

Volland’s hope is to have a conversation on how to improve snow removal even when there are big snow events and to emphasize how officials can prevent sacrificing any residents’ abilities to navigate the city.

Wednesday’s health policy committee meeting will focus on Anchorage’s 84-hour plow-out system and the effects of snow removal on public health.