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Hey, Baltimore: Here are 3 ideas for dealing with big snow in the future

Mount Vernon Place is one of many side streets yet to be plowed Tuesday morning.
Mount Vernon Place is one of many side streets yet to be plowed Tuesday morning. (Jerry Jackson)
My column today declares that it’s time the Baltimore region grew up and geared up when it comes to snow. The excuse that we only have “historic” storms and not enough average storms to make us better adapted to snow is no longer acceptable -- not after what we’ve been through in recent years and not with scientists predicting more extreme weather.
I drove up a one-lane North Calvert Street Tuesday evening and it was still a mess, and 28th Street had not even been touched by a plow. The storm was Friday-Saturday. No wonder people are getting angry.
News flash: We have climate change. The climate in the mid-Atlantic has changed. We should prepare for big snow just as we invest in other important things that keep life flowing around here -- fixing roads and bridges, dredging the harbor channel, repairing the sewer system, burying power lines.
Here are three suggestions:
  1. style="font-weight: 400;">Have the Baltimore Metropolitan Council make a large purchase over the next 10 years of additional snow-clearing equipment that can be used by Baltimore and the five surrounding counties during storms. The entire region would share in the cost of this, and our congressional delegation could probably secure some federal funds toward the purchase. Don Norris, professor of public policy at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, was on my Roughly Speaking podcast in December (Episode 24, Segment II) and explained why regional government is a non-starter here and just about everywhere in the U.S. I agree with him, but a regional approach could still be successful in a specific project such as snow removal. This kind of undertaking certainly meets the BMC’s mission to “improve the quality of life and economic vitality in the Baltimore region.”
  2. style="font-weight: 400;">When cities to our north get a blizzard and we don’t, the trucks, plows, blowers and melters owned by the BMC could be dispatched to help with snow removal there. Those cities would reciprocate when the Baltimore region needs extra help.
  3. style="font-weight: 400;">Make truck-driving and snow-plowing a standard part of the occupational training of inmates in Maryland prisons. Conduct training exercises during snowstorms at state institutions. This provides offenders with a step toward a commercial driver’s license and certification in plow operation. Supervised inmates could probably be deployed to help with snow removal when they’ve reached the pre-release stage of their sentences. Those who intend to live in the region could earn points toward parole or probation by agreeing to help with snow removal during an emergency. They would be among the additional drivers needed to operate the BMC equipment.

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