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West Allis drifts toward prioritizing snow removal

To clear the way for busier roads, nonessential streets may get a lesser treatment

A snow plow with a salter on the back was hard at work on a West Allis residential street after a 2011 snowstorm.

A snow plow with a salter on the back was hard at work on a West Allis residential street after a 2011 snowstorm. Photo By C.T. Kruger

Oct. 8, 2013

West Allis — It might be a little easier to get around the busier parts of West Allis during snowstorms this winter, depending on how many lesser-needed streets are dropped from the city's priority road list.

Aldermen could review a pared-down list of priority streets as early as Tuesday.

Because some streets on the list seemed to be more residential than essential, Michael Lewis, public works director, last week asked the Public Works Committee if some of the streets could be dropped to a lower status for salting.

Plowing would remain the same on those roads, but the goal of salting would no longer be to get bare pavement from curb to curb, Lewis said.

Residential streets such as portions of 119th Street should not have the same priority as busier roads such as Lincoln Avenue and 76th Street, he said.

"To have a level of service on 119th Street that we have on Lincoln Avenue is, in my opinion, a waste of resources," Lewis said.

The Public Works Committee's chairman, Alderman Gary Barczak, concurred, acknowledging he is at a loss to explain the city's salting strategy.

"There are some streets we don't know why they're being salted as a main," Barczak said.

The Public Works Committee agreed that a review is in order and sent the list to aldermen to remove any streets they felt are not top priorities. The revised list could come before the Public Works Committee on Tuesday.

But Barczak also noted that not all main arteries look like 76th Street or Lincoln Avenue.

For example, he and Alderman Michael May, who also represents the 3rd Aldermanic District, support keeping Schlinger Avenue as a top priority street from 84th Street to Highway 100 even though much of it runs through a residential neighborhood. That's because it is a main route to Highway 100, Barczak said.

Similarly, Washington Street from 100th to 124th streets is residential but it is used by school buses.

"We've got to get that salted," Barczak said.

In a related matter, the committee also may consider a request to put out only about 10 sand/salt barrels instead of the usual 50 or 60. Lots of people use the salt and sand in the barrels on their own driveways and walks, which is fine, Lewis said, but it is time to stop.

"It's a service we need to discontinue right now because of money and streamlining operations," he said.

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