When snow be­comes a safety haz­ard

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - FRONT PAGE - LAURA BROADLEY

Jen­nifer Rid­dell said stu­dents have been forced to walk on the road on many oc­ca­sions to get to For­est Park el­e­men­tary school be­cause the side­walks haven’t been plowed. City en­gi­neer Justin Lawrence said school zones are pri­or­ity.

A sim­ple walk to school has be­come a safety haz­ard fol­low­ing heavy snow­fall this win­ter, a par­ent at a el­e­men­tary school says.

Jen­nifer Rid­dell said her son Lu­cas, who goes to For­est Park el­e­men­tary school on For­est Av­enue south of down­town, has been forced to walk on the side­walk through some­times knee-deep snow while she walks along­side on the road.

Lu­cas has autism and isn’t al­lowed on the road be­cause he could run at any mo­ment and get hit by a car. He had to walk in knee-deep snow on Mon­day morn­ing be­fore the side­walks around the school were cleared, Rid­dell said.

“For­est Park seems to be that school that un­for­tu­nately doesn’t get plowed out or is the last to get plowed out,” she said.

The school has one bus be­cause the ma­jor­ity of stu­dents at For­est Park walk.

Rid­dell said she’s seen stu­dents with phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties forced to walk on the road be­cause walk­ing in the snow isn’t an op­tion. She fears the day when a child falls on the road or gets hit by a car.

“There’s a lot of traf­fic on For­est (Av­enue) when it’s the morn­ing rush,” Rid­dell said.

The so­lu­tion is to have schools at the top of the pri­or­ity list when it comes to plow­ing side­walks, Rid­dell said.

She said she un­der­stands the city may be over­whelmed with the amount of snow­fall lately but some­thing has to be done be­fore a tragedy oc­curs.

“In the school dis­tricts they have to be cleaned,” Rid­dell said.

City en­gi­neer Justin Lawrence said school zones and other streets with high pedes­trian traf­fic are at the top of the pri­or­ity list.

The Mu­nic­i­pal Act sets min­i­mum main­te­nance stan­dards that de­fines what cities have to do and how fast they have to re­spond to snow­fall. Side­walks aren’t listed in the min­i­mum main­te­nance stan­dards so cities can set any level of ser­vice for side­walks they want to, Lawrence said.

St. Thomas has routes for side­walk plows that are bro­ken down into pri­mary and sec­ondary. For­est Av­enue is a pri­mary route.

The city of St. Thomas gen­er­ally plows the side­walks when there is an ac­cu­mu­la­tion of 15 cen­time­tres of snow with the five side­walk plows it owns.

Lawrence said the rea­son there was so much snow of the side­walks on Mon­day morn­ing is be­cause road plows were out Fri­day, Satur­day and Sun­day.

“When the road plow goes by it, de­pend­ing on how the side­walk is ori­ented, it some­times pushes the snow onto the side­walk,” Lawrence said.

The side­walk plow then has to push the snow back, he added.

The side­walk plow had been to For­est Av­enue on Satur­day but it hadn’t been done af­ter the road plow had been by on Sun­day, Lawrence said.

For­est Park seems to be that school that un­for­tu­nately doesn’t get plowed out or is the last to get plowed out.” Jen­nifer Rid­dell When the road plow goes by it (For­est Park), de­pend­ing on how the side­walk is ori­ented, it some­times pushes the snow onto the side­walk.” Justin Lawrence, city en­gi­neer

LAURA BROADLEY/TIMES-JOUR­NAL

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

Jen­nifer Rid­dell said her son was forced to walk through snow Mon­day that was knee deep to get to school af­ter a heavy snow­fall be­cause the side­walk hadn’t been plowed.

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