St. Paul to get new plows, leaders to help with snow removal

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman has removed a public works official in response to concerns about the condition of the city's streets.

The mayor announced Monday he has reassigned street maintenance operations manager Kevin Nelson to other duties in the department.

The city will also accelerate its purchase of new, more sophisticated plows. Coleman also said he's directed the public works department to spend an extra $1 million on snow removal equipment next year.

The money will come out of the department's existing budget. On average, St. Paul's snow removal fleet is about 17 years old.

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The decisions came after an internal review, Coleman spokesman Joe Campbell said.

"St. Paul has always prided itself on the high quality of services that we provide residents," he added. "It's clear, after a thorough review this weekend, that the city didn't live up to those expectations."

The city stepped up its spreading of salt and sand over the weekend, and will continue that practice. But Campbell acknowledged the roads would likely remain caked with ice until temperatures warm later this week.

Former operations manager Nelson has worked for the city since 1987. His personnel file shows the city tried to suspend him for 10 days back in 2010. The suspension was reduced following a union grievance, on the condition Nelson met "performance expectations."

Asked for a comment on his reassignment, Nelson emailed that St. Paul has a "committed maintenance staff."

They have given up many holidays, weekends and evenings to keep the streets of St Paul moving and safe. I wish them all the best," Nelson said.