(Update) Mayor Bill de Blasio defends city’s snow plowing efforts

Mayor Bill de Blasio shovels snow outside of his Brooklyn home on Wednesday.  Credit: Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio
Mayor Bill de Blasio shovels snow outside of his Brooklyn home on Wednesday.
Credit: Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

Update (5:30 p.m.): Mayor Bill de Blasio released the following statement:

“After hearing concerns about street conditions on the Upper East Side, I headed to the area to survey the streets for myself, and to hear from residents directly. While the overall storm response across the city was well-executed, after inspecting the area and listening to concerns from residents earlier today, I determined more could have been done to serve the Upper East Side. I have instructed the Commissioner of the Department of Sanitation to double-down on cleanup efforts on the Upper East Side, and as a result, 30 vehicles and nearly 40 sanitation workers have been deployed to the area to finish the cleanup. Our crews will remain on the streets around the clock until the roadways are clear in every neighborhood, in every borough, across New York City.”

Read Metro’s original story below:

Two days after New York was struck with one of the worst snowstorms in the city’s history, then-Public Advocate Bill de Blasio wrote to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, concerned about the administration’s response.

“It has become evident that the outer boroughs have been disproportionately affected by the lack of plowing after Sunday’s snow storm,” de Blasio wrote in a letter Dec. 28, 2010.

Just over three years later, Mayor de Blasio defended the city’s response during Tuesday’s snowstorm, particularly on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where some residents grumbled about unplowed streets.

“No one was treated differently,” the mayor said Wednesday. “We believe in a five-borough approach.”

While the mayor said the vast majority of the city’s 6,300 miles of roads were cleared in time for the morning commute, East Side Councilman Dan Garodnick disagreed.

“Until mid-day Wednesday, problems persisted, and cars were skidding and getting stuck even on main avenues,” Garodnick said in a statement. “It took longer than it should have to resolve these issues.”

De Blasio said the timing and intensity of the storm made it difficult for city workers to clear streets before rush hour Tuesday evening in some neighborhoods like the Upper East Side. More cars on the streets as New Yorkers tried to get home, he and other officials said, slowed down removal.

“It is what it is,” Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said. “They can believe what they want. I know what we did.”

(Officials also said a GPS glitch meant progress on the Upper East Side wasn’t properly reported to PlowNYC, the city’s online plowing tracker.)

Wednesday afternoon, de Blasio stopped in the Upper East Side to survey storm cleanup and talk to residents. After a trip from a west side sanitation garage Tuesday night, the mayor said he thought roads in Midtown and downtown Manhattan were relatively clear.

“What I saw was a lot of equipment out,” he said. By 9 a.m. Wednesday, roughly 1,800 snow removal vehicles had been deployed throughout the city. Almost 300 pieces of equipment, Doherty said, were deployed to the Upper East Side on Tuesday.

Officials said some 2,300 sanitation workers, plus 200 from other agencies, assisted in the clean-up effort. Singling out specific examples of poor plow efforts was disrespectful to those workers, de Blasio said.

“They were out there in force in every neighborhood,” he said.

The mayor noted that dealing with criticism — particularly snow-related gripes — was part of his job.

“Theres a rich history of people in leadership positions dealing with weather crises,” he said.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter @AnnaESanders



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