The price of plowing; city commissioner admits misstatement

The price of plowing; city commissioner admits misstatement »Play Video

PORTLAND, Ore. - City Commissioner Steve Novick was the first to admit, “I made a misstatement yesterday.”

The cost of hiring enough people to plow every portland street in a snowstorm isn't the $300 million Novick mentioned Monday. Instead it's more like $70 million.

“That's not the cost of doing the plowing,” Novick said. “That would be the cost of having enough staff around that you could send them out to do the plowing.”

Minneapolis only spends $9 million on snow removal on average each year. Commissioner Novick says that’s because Minneapolis already has the staff to operate all of it’s plows.

Novick also says having private contractors on standby probably isn't an option.

“We don't think that there's lots and lots of people out there with snowplows and people that know how to use them,” Novick said.

There is that kind of equipment at River city Environmental in Northeast Portland. There are plow-capable dump trucks and de-icing spreaders.

River City Environmental clears parking lots for hospitals and other facilities. The Mount Scott homeowner's association hired them to plow streets there clear of snow Monday.

The city may not be able to hire River City Environmental’s trucks, but owner Steve McInnis says the city could turn to its garbage hauling franchisees, requiring them to have plows to help clear side streets in emergencies.

“They're doing it anyway,” said McInnis. “They know the routes, they know the neighborhoods, they know the streets.”

McInnis says Portland drivers would also have to deal with a new challenge: getting plowed into their driveways and streetside parking spots.

“If they're gonna park on the street tonight, there's a chance they're going to be buried in the morning," McInnis said. "So it's get up an hour early, dig your car out so you're ready to go.”

Commissioner Novick says he has directed his staff to take a second look at the city's long-standing policy not to use salt to help keep streets clear of snow and ice.