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Confusion and cleared roads: A look back at Duluth’s first snow emergency

Plow crews hit the roads around 2:00 p.m. and were plowing residential streets by 6:00 a.m., which Van Daele said was ahead of schedule.
Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 7:22 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 29, 2021 at 7:41 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (KBJR) - Duluth’s first snow emergency is officially in the books.

It was declared Tuesday afternoon.

People were supposed to move their cars off those routes by 9 p.m. Tuesday and keep them off until 6 p.m. Wednesday.

City of Duluth officials say its first snow emergency went well.

“We’ve seen a lot of compliance which is great, and we’ve seen areas which need more compliance which is expected,” said Kate Van Daele with the City of Duluth.

Plow crews hit the roads around 2:00 p.m. and were plowing residential streets by 6:00 a.m., which Van Daele said was ahead of schedule.

But, while roads looked clear, cars were still not allowed back on snow emergency routes until 6:00 p.m. Wednesday.

An important detail that was not received by all.

“We’ve spoken to hospitals and other businesses to remind their staff and their visitors that this is the policy, and if they make that choice to park on snow emergency routes, they could be subject to be ticketed and towed,” said Van Daele.

For Duluth’s New London Café, which is located on a snow emergency route, they made the difficult decision to close Wednesday to eliminate confusion and keep their customers safe.

“It’s a busy street, and when we have customers here tomorrow, if it was icy and nasty, it could pose a risk,” said co-owner Johnathon Jenkins.

For Jenkins, closing was a big choice, but the pros outweighed the cons.

“It’s tough to close down as a business owner, it can be tough for employees as well, but we just hope the community responds and joins us for breakfast tomorrow,” said Jenkins.

With the first snow emergency under our belts, Duluth leaders said they can continue adapting and responding to whatever mother nature has in store.

Van Daele added that because this is the first time they have put the policy into place, they will be making adjustments as needed, including more targeted outreach in certain areas.

She says about 50 cars were towed overnight, and many more tickets were given out.

We are expecting to know those exact numbers Thursday.

If you own a car that was towed overnight, you are asked to contact the police to locate it.

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