Sweepers make streets safe

by Heather Fors

Beginning Tuesday, tow trucks and street sweepers will head out to wash away winter’s last remnants from Minneapolis streets and make them safer for cars, bicyclists and people with disabilities.
Although city officials originally planned to start sweeping March 13, recent unfavorable weather has kept them from maintaining their schedule.
Because about 90 percent of the city alleys are already swept, city cleaners will be moving onto streets, and that means students need to remove their cars.
Because city sweepers started with streets in Southeast Minneapolis last year, they will be starting with those in the northeast part of the city this year, said Charlie Gustafson, First District street maintenance supervisor. “We won’t be over there for at least a couple of weeks,” he said.
The 13.5 miles of University streets have already been swept by campus crews, mostly at night so as not to disrupt campus activity.
University officials said spring cleanup is more time consuming than other seasons because of winter debris on the streets. But this year it only took them two days to finish because of a light winter and early rain showers.
But those who park in Dinkytown and on other city streets will temporarily lose a spot sometime in the next couple weeks. If drivers don’t comply, they might have to pay a hefty fine for towing, ticket and storage fees to get their cars back.
“It is about a $100 bill each time you take that ride down to the impound lot and it’s quite a hassle,” Gustafson said.
He said he thinks parking and towing near campus during spring cleanup has gotten better in the last few years, but there is still a significant amount of cars from the area being towed.
Areas surrounding the University are usually a problem because transient students who park there don’t know the rules as well as residents.
Bill Carter, city public information assistant, said warning signs notifying motorists of specific dates and times for street cleaning are posted along city streets the day before they’re swept. Cleaning begins at 7 a.m., but tagging and towing starts later to give people a little extra time to move their cars.
Generally, sweepers first will cover areas where cars have already been moved and where there are permanent parking restrictions before they begin tagging and towing.
However, officials advised that motorists heed these signs to save themselves and the city from unnecessary hassle.