City, county bracing for impending blizzard
A winter storm is expected to hammer the region with as many as eight to 12 inches of snow during the next 24 hours.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson wants private businesses to send employees home at 1 p.m. today to clear the way for the city's fleet of snow plows.
County employees will be sent home at 1:30 p.m. to avoid the worsening weather and discourage residents from traveling downtown for county services, a spokeswoman said.
Government employees -– except for plow and salt truck drivers and safety workers -- should plan to leave work at 2:30 p.m., Jackson said during a news conference Wednesday.
Darnell Brown, chief operating officer for the city, said Wednesday that 48 trucks and 12 road graders stand ready for deployment, and the city has about 18,000 tons of salt on hand with another 2,500 tons on its way. Crews have been pre-treating the Shoreway and downtown bridges to minimize icy conditions.
The city will first remove thoroughfares and secondary routes but will move on to residential areas once the main roads are clear, Brown said. Cleveland Public Power crews also will be on standby to handle power outages that might occur on account of heavy snowfall and icy wires, he said.
Safety Director Martin Flask said that 24 extra police officers have been called on-duty to manage traffic downtown, and another 19 will be stationed in University Circle to direct the mass exodus from the city. At least five officers will escort plow trucks along their routes.
City officials warn residents that some city streets ban parking when snow exceeds two inches. Violators will be ticketed. Officials urge voluntary compliance on other streets, to allow plows to clean the roads curb-to-curb.
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has extra crews working today to clear snow from bus stops and train stations, a spokeswoman said.
RTA spokeswoman Mary Shaffer said trains have been running around the clock since Tuesday to keep rails warm and operable. Trains normally do not run between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m.
"We're as ready as we can be," she said. "We plan for the worst, but hope for the best.
The RTA encourages riders to use its commuter alert system, which notifies riders via text or email of any delays greater than 10 minutes.
To receive email or text alerts from the RTA, register at commuteralerts.riderta.com/CommuterAlerts.