Cast your mind forward to when the first snow emergency of the year hits St. Paul. The snowflakes might as well be cornflakes with their size and peculiar density, burying your car every second you tarry deciding what to do.
You’ll check your phone to figure out on which side of the street you’re supposed to park. Surprise -- there isn’t a safe spot on your block, because your life is apparently run by an either angry or indifferent god.
Well, you think to yourself, I guess I could park in the alley.
And, see, now you’ve messed up.
By the next morning, your car will be so deep in snow that you will question whether it still exists, let alone where it might be. The stretch between your frozen lump of a vehicle and the street will be a pillowy no-man’s land you can barely walk through, never mind driving.
You’ll shovel. You’ll rev. You’ll wheedle and curse the angry and indifferent gods in turn. And in the end, you will give up. Because alleyways in St. Paul are benighted doom zones where cars go to die, and snowplows don’t even deign to enter.
But all that might change.
The city’s proposed budget -- yet to be approved -- includes $30,000 allocated to find out what exactly it would take to get some plows trundling down St. Paul’s alleys -- at least, during snow emergencies.
Don’t get your hopes up, because it could end up being expensive as all get out. As previously reported by the Pioneer Press, St. Paul isn’t like Minneapolis, which has alleys designed with lighting and drainage systems and widths broad enough to accommodate more than just a Toyota Corolla and a heavy-set racoon sitting side-by-side. The city’s plows can’t even fit in some of St. Paul’s dark, narrow alleyways.
If this is going to work, St. Paul is going to need a whole new fleet of plows.
Then again, the problem of unnavigable alleys isn't going away either. Public Works Spokesperson Lisa Hiebert says, the plowing issue “comes up every year.”
“Most neighborhoods pool their resources and have an independent contractor plow their alleys,” she says.
There are plenty of opinions on whether that should change. Some folks, she says, are content to have their own plow services ready to spiff up the alley whenever they want. If that’s not your situation, you’re probably a little more amenable to the city taking up that task for you.
None of these new plowing plans is set in stone, but the concept of plowed alleyways is now out in the universe. It’s up to the indifferent, angry gods to either smile or snow upon it.