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Many Side Streets Close To Impassable As Long Snowstorm Pounds Chicago Area

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A super-sized snowstorm that pounded the Chicago area Monday has left many side streets nearly impassable.

As CBS 2's Dana Kozlov reported, it could be a while before those streets are cleared. First, the snow will have to stop, and then Department of Streets and Sanitation snow plows will have to keep arterial streets and Lake Shore Drive clear before getting to side streets as per protocol.

In the meantime, it will be tough and treacherous to get around on side streets. In Uptown at 5 p.m., it was very slow going and cars were virtually buried – with small snow embankments next to the tires in some of the parked carts. There were also tire tracks in the middle of the road, which in some cases made a necessary path for other drivers to get down the streets at all.

LIVE UPDATES: Heavy Lake-Effect Snow Combines With Snowstorm System; Totals Could Exceed 12 Inches In Spots

A great side-street shovel-out was under way in the late afternoon, and conditions only got worse in the evening. Driver after driver needed a shovel to get out of curbside parking spots - if they could even get out.

Perla Francisco was worried about her dad's ability to find a parking space after work – and he hadn't even left yet.

"Very difficult to find a spot here – it is harsh now, because sometimes you get stuck," Francisco said.

Dibs is the time-honored, or reviled, Chicago tradition of using - anything - to save a shoveled-out space, and sure enough, old wooden chairs were out reserving parking spaces on that Uptown block.

The problem is that if side street snow gets much higher, even that won't work.

Chicago Streets and San Commissioner John Tully reminds people that side streets are the last plowing priority - meaning snow piles will get higher, and more cars covered, before it gets better.

But he said all crews are in and out working - city holiday and all.

"Yes, they are working on overtime, and we'll continue till we clear both the main streets and the residential streets," Tully said.

The cost to taxpayers for the snow emergency is yet to be tabulated. It all leads to a lot of headaches - unless you're one guy whom Kozlov came across as he was riding a bike. That's right, riding a bike.

"I've got to get outside, get some fresh air. I went to the library and dropped off my books, and I feel so good that I'm out moving my legs," the cyclist said.

The man said he bikes all the time – and biking may even be easier than driving on side streets amid the storm.

There was talk of the city hauling away big snow piles and dumping them at central locations to remove obstructions after the snowstorm was over.

"Within our snow plan, if we do get that amount of snow, we do have pre-identified areas throughout the city where we can put snow... and in locations that won't be dangerous," Tully said.

A similar effort was undertaken after the blizzard of early February 2011, when rapidly-falling snow resulted in cars getting stuck on Lake Shore Drive.

But this time, such decisions likely will not be evaluated for a couple of days.


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