Businesses and landowners whose property abut U.S. Highway 2 still are responsible for cleaning sidewalks of snow this winter, even though the state Department of Transportation and the city collectively helped clear them after the Dec. 27-30 storm.
The storm dumped more than a foot of snow in the city. Coupled with high winds, drifts were several feet deep in some locales.
On top of that, the state, in order to clear U.S. Highway 2, also threw snow up onto the sidewalks.
The result was a fine mess of snow that was like concrete.
Some businesses and landowners blew the rock-hard snow out themselves initially. Then last Thursday, MDT sent crews out to haul away the snow between the highway and the sidewalks. The city, in turn, hired contractor Shannon Click to clear the remaining walks with a self-propelled blower.
The state’s plan was to stage the snow on the curbline, but it got too deep and encroached on both the sidewalk and the highway.
“We anticipated it happening,” said Justun Juelfs, Kalispell maintenance chief for the MDT.
On Friday, he said MDT would be coming back to clear the sidewalks further, because when they hauled away the first round of snow, it ended up dumping more back onto the sidewalks. MDT was doing the same work in Kalispell, he noted, and it just takes time to get all the snow cleared.
The city and state help doesn’t mean property owners are off the hook for smaller storms. They’re still responsible for clearing off sidewalks along the highway in the future.
But if there’s another big dump, the state will help again, Juelfs noted.
“The city is extremely appreciative of the property owners that are maintaining their sidewalks in such a manner that allows safe usage,” city manager Susan Nicosia said Friday in an email to the Hungry Horse News.
The city has always had an ordinance that requires landowners that have an adjacent city sidewalk to clear it of snow, but this is the first year they’ve decided to enforce it along U.S. Highway 2. Last winter, which was also a snowy winter, sidewalks along the highway weren’t cleared, and as a result, people were walking on top the snow banks, some of which were four and five feet high.
The city sent out reminder letters to landowners earlier this year to U.S. Highway 2 businesses reminding them of the ordinance.
Juelfs said the goal is to keep motorists and pedestrians separated and safe.