City alerts advise of snowfall parking ban

By PAT BOWDEN News Editor


 South Dakota winter storms often hit with little warning, and when they do, city snow removal services are required. As in any city, there are parking restrictions in Brookings to enable these services, and the possibility of cars getting blocked in with snow after the plow goes by exists. With a variety of ways to broadcast these parking restrictions, the Brookings Street Department does their best inform residents when they need to move their parked cars off the street and out of the way of the plows.

“Time wise, [the parking protocols] depend on the storm, because no two storms are the same,” said Brookings Street Superintendent Koss Delfinis. “The more I see the wait – four to five hours – the harder it [snow] gets to pick up and push.”

The Brookings Street Department deals mainly with in-town plowing, with the exception of main streets such as Medary. 

Since the number of workers operating plow machines is limited, their timeliness is strained when a large storm hits.

“Once you accumulate 7 to 8 inches, we can’t wait for a parking ban to take place,” Delfinis said. “We only have one shift of people, and we have to be extremely efficient in the first 14 hours. Then we go downtown, and that’s a whole different ballgame.”

Brookings doesn’t encounter parking bans too often, but when it does some students may park in lots without the proper parking pass in order to get their vehicle off of the street.

“I’ve only heard of a parking ban where you have to take emergency routes two or three times in the four years that I’ve been here,” said Building Maintenance Coordinator James Weiss. “[Students evacuating to the parking lots] doesn’t affect us a lot because more of the cars are already there and filling up the stall.”

The city uses a variety of media to warn Brookings residents of incoming plows, and the restrictions that follow. The city places warnings on the radio channels 92.5-FM 93.7-FM, 910-AM and four other local channels. 

“We usually run the warnings starting with the hotline. There are radio alerts that air, but during the week of the storm it’s extremely hard to get the announcements in. We also get the announcements in through our social media pages,” Delfinis said.

The Brookings Street Department’s website can be a directory for alert information and has a rule of thumb about parking during a blizzard, which states: “When it’s snowing, refrain form parking on city streets and alleys, then call the hotline at (605) 696-7669.”

On campus, snow removal is handled in a slightly different manner. The streets that run through campus, sidewalks and parking lots are the concerns of maintenance at SDSU.

“We start clearing in the center [of campus] and work our way out,” Weiss said.

Campus starts clearing snow at 4 a.m. and works to have the commuter lots open by 7 or 8 a.m. said Weiss. The first three lots campus clears are north of Briggs Library, north of the Agriculture Heritage Museum and south of Daktronics Engineering Hall. 

“We have five skid loaders” Weiss said. “We have about 22 miles of sidewalk and three miles of road that we’re responsible to plow.” 

The Brookings Street Department does not plow directly in campus parking lots. The main streets around campus, however, are some of the first to be plowed by the street department during a snow emergency. 

“The emphasis of plowing is on the area and time of the storm. I try to knock out the three lanes so that way we have some traffic to get through,” Delfinis said. “We cannot do it during the daytime because of all the parked cars.”

Both the city and campus maintenance work together well when certain areas of campus are under need of attention. While the streets can be rather quick to clear, there is a considerable amount of time placed into clearing the parking lots, Weiss said.

The department also plans accordingly around rush hour as to when they plow during business days. “Around the SDSU area, we plow after five o’ clock so staff and students can get home,” Delfinis said.

The department tries to give the city at least a four hour notification on parking restrictions during the winter months. 

“We’re out there to make the streets safe, and we cannot guarantee that your car will not be blocked in,” Delfinis said.