With roads clogged by snow, Minneapolis to begin one-sided street parking rules

Traffic signs are seen
Speed limit and “Snow Emergency Route” signs are seen behind a snow pile on Harriet Avenue, in south Minneapolis on Dec. 23.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News file

Minneapolis officials announced that the city will implement one-sided street parking rules starting Thursday night, in response to a much snowier-than-usual winter that has left some roads impassable to buses and emergency vehicles.

Starting at 9 p.m. Thursday, parking will not be allowed on the even side of streets that are non-snow emergency routes. Any vehicles in violation of the winter parking restrictions will be ticketed or towed.

During the winter parking restrictions, people are allowed to park on both sides of most snow emergency routes and parkways where parking is allowed, although the city may post temporary “no parking” signs.

The rules are set to remain in place until April 1, but could be lifted sooner if weather conditions allow.

In announcing the new parking restrictions on Wednesday, Minneapolis Public Works Director Margaret Anderson Kelliher said the city has experienced 52 inches of snow this season, which she said has led to a “whole heck of a lot of snow plowed to the curb.”

Kelliher acknowledged that the winter parking restrictions are an inconvenience, but said they are necessary in the interest of public safety.

”If there’s a fire, if someone has a heart attack, we need to have the streets in a way so that large vehicles can move down them,” Kelliher said. “And, of course, we don’t want to have kids sitting on school buses for long periods of time.”

Minneapolis Fire Chief Bryan Tyner said the response time of his fire rigs have been hurt by the road conditions.

“When there’s an emergency, whether it be fire or a medical emergency, seconds matter, and certainly minutes matter,” Tyner said. “The amount of snow we’ve had combined with two-sided parking has made many of these side streets impassable for our fire rigs and also for many other vehicles.”

School buses have also been impacted, said chief of finance and operations for Minneapolis Public Schools Ibrahima Diop. The school district said one storm in early January led to a record 19 Minneapolis school buses stuck in the snow and ice.

“Quite frankly if a bus is stuck, that means students will be coming late to school. That is not good for good learning, and we do feel that the safety of the students on those buses will be enhanced by this measure,” Diop said.

Minneapolis has called four snow emergencies in the last six weeks, Kelliher said, and crews are still working hard to improve the conditions on residential streets, but the weather hasn’t cooperated.

”We had hoped for maybe a little warmer weather, some sunshine, that would have given us some ability to get some more widening on the streets — that did not happen in the last ten days,” Kelliher said. “We’re about as wide as we can get right now, so making the streets passable particularly for public safety vehicles is important.”

St. Paul, which has called one more snow emergency than Minneapolis, has not declared winter parking restrictions yet. St. Paul Public Works Director Sean Kershaw said the most recent snow emergency they declared helped them widen the streets, but that city officials are monitoring the situation.

Facing questions about Minneapolis’ snow removal efforts, Kelliher described a recent storm that she said had a high moisture content, which meant that residential streets had turned to ice “bonded with concrete” by the time plows had finished with arterial streets. She said crews are doing their best to break up ruts in residential roads.

If a snow emergency is declared in Minneapolis, Kelliher said the parking restrictions will temporarily be lifted, and the typical snow emergency parking rules will apply. When the snow emergency concludes, the ban on even-side parking on non-snow emergency routes will resume.

The last time Minneapolis declared winter parking restrictions was in late February of 2019, and it lasted less than a month.

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