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City Official: Snow Removal Crews Ready If It's Another Wicked Winter

CHICAGO (CBS) -- With his boss up for re-election in February, the man in charge of snow removal for Chicago said Tuesday that city crews are ready for the coming winter, even if there's a repeat of last year's brutal conditions.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports problems plowing away ice and snow can threaten the political life expectancy of Chicago elected officials. It's largely accepted that the late Mayor Michael Bilandic's failure to fight intense snow well during the 1979 blizzard paved the way for Jane Byrne to unseat him just weeks later.

Last winter's heavy snow and extreme cold stretched Chicago's snow removal crews almost to the breaking point. Streets & Sanitation Commissioner Charles Williams said, this year, the city has enough equipment, personnel, salt, and hope.

"I know that I'm preparing for the worst, and I feel it's going to be a bad one. I hope my weather service is correct, and it's not a bad one, and it's very normal. Thirty-eight inches right now really seems great compared to 85. That's what I'm hoping for, but I'm prepared for whatever Mother Nature sends our way," he said at a City Council budget hearing Tuesday.


The commissioner said he has no plans to alter snow removal routes now, even though the city's ward boundaries change next year due to the 10-year remap ahead of the 2015 city elections.

"What I don't want to do, as we are in the middle of a snow season, is change. Our drivers have been working those routes regularly for almost 10 years now. They know their routes. When we hand them a route, they service that route," he said.

Williams told aldermen the only thing he will change is using technology to keep the public better informed about snow removal efforts, and to keep track of the city's plows.

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