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How the city of Syracuse is combating illegally parked cars that can impede snow removal

Two yellow snow plows sit outside a building in an empty lot.
Kelly Montague
City of Syracuse
Two snow plows occupy an empty lot.

The City of Syracuse is working with police to minimize parking complications before heavier snowfall rushes in on Thursday.

On Sunday and Monday, 26 vehicles prevented the city's snowplowing efforts. But, city-provided data from last year show up to 96 illegally parked cars blocked plows in a single day.

Syracuse Chief Operating Officer Corey Driscoll Dunham said this can slow down the plowing process.

"It makes it even more difficult when you've got—you're trying to navigate around cars that are just parked in ways that make it difficult," Driscoll Dunham said.

So this season, Driscoll Dunham said the city is using data to take a proactive approach.

"We have taken data in terms of where we've seen those illegally parked cars in the past, and sharing that information with SPD in advance of, kind of large snow events to make sure that people know that they need to move their car that we're targeting in those places," Driscoll Dunham said.

She said new technology in the cabin of city snowplows would also help drivers navigate such problems.

"And so this turn-by-turn navigation, make sure that they're covering the entire route that they're assigned to," Driscoll Dunham said. "And also when they run into obstacles, like illegally parked cars that make it difficult that they might have to just skip that street because they can't go down there."

Officials have said the additional resources can help the city's fleet of snow plow drivers, many of whom are new as jurisdictions face an ongoing shortage.

Onondaga County Department of Transportation Commissioner Martin Voss said recruiting people to drive the snowplow, which requires a commercial driver's license, is challenging.

“It's difficult to identify candidates who want to come do this kind of work and who are willing to put in the amount of hours that it takes in the winter to be a part of the organization,” Voss said.

Voss said he doesn't expect that to affect the clearing of roads.

“We’ll go to war with the snowplow drivers we have, and we will make the best of it and get it done," Voss said.

A winter storm advisory in effect for Onondaga County beginning Thursday morning.

A large yellow snow plow sits inside a wide room.
Kelly Montague
City of Syracuse
A large snow plow takes up room inside a warehouse.