For Some in Wheelchairs, Concerns Over Snow Buildup on St. Paul Street Corners

February 28, 2018 06:00 AM

Recent significant snowfall has brought concerns and complaints from some who need sidewalks, curbs and streets to be clear of snow and ice to get around.

"This I can make, kind of, but over here I don't know yet," said one woman who relies on a motorized wheelchair to get around.


We're not identifying her, but she brought concerns to the city of St. Paul about being unable to navigate some sidewalks into the street, and to get up from some streets onto sidewalks.

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Asked if she was able to make it to school Monday, she said: "Thankfully, somebody walked me across the street so they could kind of block traffic from hitting me."

The city tells her it's a building owner problem, that the owner is required to remove snow and ice from the curb cuts – or ramps – that lead from the sidewalk down to the street.

Businesses say it's a city problem, because snow and ice from the roadway gets pushed into those curb cuts by plows.

"I called more than seven different people in various agencies (Monday)," the woman said. "I spent hours on the phone and got no resolution." 

William McAndrews, 83, said he also had mobility issues on sidewalks after the recent snow.

"I can't go across that, there's no way," he said about the corner of University Avenue and Carleton Street in St. Paul. "It won't push."

The lack of cleanup forced him into traffic on University Avenue, he said.

"It's both of their responsibilities – to maintain the ability for people to walk on the sidewalk in the city of St. Paul," McAndrews said.

According to the city, snow needs to be cleared within 24 hours after a snowfall. After that a complaint can be taken. Twenty-four hours later, an inspection is ordered.

It could be until the next day before the snow and ice is then cleared.

Asked about those who can't afford to wait two to three days, a spokesperson for the city's Department of Safety and Inspections said:

"It's tragic, it's sad. But we have to follow our ordinance, and our ordinance states we have to give people due process." 

The St. Paul Public Works department provides a phone number to report uncleared corners, and said a plow would come out and clear the problem area. That number is 651-266-9700.

The city's complaint line can also take calls. That number is 651-266-8989.    


Jessica Miles

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