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City agencies prepare for the upcoming winter

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After last year’s harsh winter, city agencies and elected officials promise the Bronx will be better prepared this time around.

The Blizzard of 2010 buried the entire city in over 20 inches of fresh powder right after Christmas last year, and Bronxites were left digging themselves out after the Department of Sanitation responded too slowly.

For weeks, Councilman Jimmy Vacca and other elected officials blasted the efforts in the Bronx by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and DSNY. In April, Vacca and Councilwoman Annabel Palma passed a co-sponsored bill that would require DSNY to create and publish borough snow removal plans every year before the start of the snow season.

On Thursday, December 1, DSNY officially released the 2011-2012 Winter Snow Plan for the Borough of the Bronx and is available to the public on their website. Vacca was pleased with the plan and is hoping that it will help the borough during the upcoming winter.

“Last December’s blizzard was just a nightmare, and many of our city’s agencies were asleep at the switch,” Vacca said. “Too many mistakes were made based on that blizzard and I would like an explanation as to things are going to be different. Hopefully these agencies have learned from their mistakes last year and that this winter will be much better.”

The 20-page Bronx snow plan includes a complete description of primary, secondary and tertiary streets, a strategy for removing snow from bus stops and curbs located at major street intersections, an inventory of snow management equipment and personnel by community districts, local elected officials and on-the-ground workers, and information for agency personnel responsible for communicating with residents.

Vacca, who is also the chair of the Council Committee on Transportation, held a hearing on Tuesday, December 6 to learn more about the Metro Transit Authority’s preparedness for this coming winter. After the blizzard, the city’s busses and trains were paralyzed, with hundreds of busses stuck in snow banks and dozens of trains stalled.

Although he acknowledged that the streets not being cleaned in a timely matter was a major factor, Vacca said it is important that the MTA and the city Department of Transportation revamped their snow response polices and introduce changes to ensure a quicker and coordinated response for this winter and years to come.

“Unfortunat­ely, we needed a terrible winter like last year to really have our agencies step their game up in the future,” Vacca said. “Our residents need to know that these agencies are doing what they can to reassure people that there will be safety, service, and more.”

Download the snow plan at www.nyc.gov/html/dsny/html/snow_plans_mapping/snowplans.shtml.

Reach Vito Signorile via e-mail at vsignorile@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383.

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