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Baltimore City government offices to close Monday as cleanup continues

and Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Baltimore City government offices would be closed Monday, though essential employees must still come to work unless otherwise notified, officials said Sunday.

As snow removal crews are working to clear roads as quickly as possible, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake warned drivers about refreezing overnight Sunday.

"You're going to be at risk of hitting black ice," she cautioned.

Officials said 90 percent of Baltimore's primary streets had been cleared by Sunday evening. Some 60 percent of the secondary streets were cleared, and 40 to 50 percent of the neighborhood streets were cleared.

They offered no estimate on when all city streets would be passable.

"It's going to take time," Rawlings-Blake said. "This is not business as usual.

"Remember, we're all in this together."

Earlier Sunday Rawlings-Blake is urging residents to consider the common good when digging out their cars and sidewalks; she said it will increase the time it takes to clear roads if residents are dumping snow they have shoveled into the middle of streets.

"That will help us to maintain the advantage that we have over 2010 because again, we've tripled the amount of contractor equipment that we have to start with," she said. "We had these resources in place prior to the storm. In order for that plan to be effective, we need residents to be helpful."

Even though the city lifted Phase III of the city's snow emergency plan — which stipulated that only emergency vehicles were allowed on the roads — at 6 a.m. Sunday, the city is still under Phase II, meaning all vehicles traveling in the city must be equipped with snow tires, all-weather radial tires or snow chains, and parking is restricted along designated snow emergency routes. Rawlings-Blake encouraged motorists to continue to avoid the roads.

"I know people are starting to get cabin fever but now is not the time to go venture out onto the roads unless you absolutely have to," she said.

The city's department of transportation continues to tow cars parks on snow emergency routes. As of Sunday morning, 173 cars had been relocated, according to the DOT. Drivers whose cars have been towed can call 311 to find out where their car has been moved and retrieve them at no cost.

Rawlings-Blake said she will continue to assess the condition of the roads and decide Sunday afternoon whether to close the city government Monday. During the blizzard of 2010, the government closed for two days with two additional days of liberal leave for city employees, and she said the response this time around will likely be similar.

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