GR to launch sidewalk snow removal program

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s an unavoidable task for Charvette Washington who is out shoveling every time the snow flies.

“When I get off work at 10 o’clock, if it snowed, I shovel,” Washington said as she cleared the sidewalk in front of her home on Union Street.

But that job could get a little easier for Washington and some of her neighbors. Her neighborhood is part of a pilot sidewalk snow clearing program.

Early next year, the city of Grand Rapids plans to launch the program to clear 100 miles of sidewalk in neighborhoods in each city ward, including high traffic areas and neighborhoods with senior citizens, school children and others who need clear sidewalks to get to where they’re going.

>> Inside Maps of sidewalk snow removal program by zone.

“We tried to locate them close to where bus stops are, pathways to get to schools, senior centers and then also looking where we had people who are accessing transit a little more,” Naramore said.

The program is not unique to the area.

“The city of Wyoming, they have sidewalk snow removal already built into the program. As well as a lot of four-season cities across the country.” Naramore said.

And while they won’t go all the way down to the dry pavement, they’ll take the heavy stuff off.

“We’re just there to help if it snows more than 2 inches. But you are still as a property owner responsible for getting it cleared down to the bare concrete.” Naramore said.

While Washington doesn’t mind someone else picking up a shovel, she has a question. 

“I would just ask how much is it going to cost? I already pay enough taxes.” Washington asked.

Naramore says the project will cost the city approximately $120,000 for the season.

“I think we’ve budgeted for 13 snow events from January through April.” she said.

Funding for the pilot program will come from a portion of the state gas tax that’s shared with cities. 

“Which we already use right now as a city to pay for things like street painting, minor fixes, as well as pays for snow removal throughout the city,” Naramore said.

City officials plan to take what they learn from the pilot program and determine if it’s feasible throughout the city.

The city has just under 1,000 miles of sidewalk.

A city-wide sidewalk snow removal program would cost about $1.5 million.

Those state shared funds would not cover the bill for city-wide snow removal.

Naramore says a discussion on funding a larger program may come in the future.

“But we’re not there yet” she said. “We’re really wanting to just test this out and see what it looks like.”

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