GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The City of Grand Rapids is offering its Sidewalk Snow Support pilot program that will bring snow removal support to select areas.

The program launched in a trial stage this January and will run through April 2020. The pilot program reaches more than 100 miles of sidewalk in Grand Rapids in all three of the city's wards.

"We analyzed where our senior centers are, schools, transits stops and then we’ve set up a program that follows sort of an 80/20 rule. So 80% are on major streets and 20% are on local streets," said Josh Naramore, director at Mobile GR.

sidewalk snow support
Mobile GR

Sidewalk Snow Support was modeled after other programs in cities like East Grand Rapids and Wyoming. Two local contractors will provide sidewalk snow removal support after snow events that result in more than two inches of snow at one period of time. 

"Last weekend it snowed an inch, and then there was about a 12-hour or 24-hour period, and it snowed about another inch. So this past weekend was not a qualifying snow event," Naramore explained.

Property owners and residents are still responsible for removing any remaining snow and ice on the sidewalk, as Naramore said the contractors are only clearing the snow down to half an inch. All residents within the designated pilot area were added to the program, and there currently isn't a way to opt out.

"They are not able to opt out, but that is something that we’re flagging as a lesson learned for the next approach, because you don’t want to necessarily bring a program that people don’t want," Naramore said.

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Though last year's heavy snowfall was an inspiration for the snow support initiative, Naramore said the city has only had one qualifying snow event this year where services could be applied.

"The first qualifying snow event we had was about five and a half or six inches. It was really heavy, wet, dense snow," Naramore said.

The pilot program's mission is to assess the feasibility of expanding the Sidewalk Snow Support program, but Naramore said they have no set plans to expand at the moment.

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"This allows us to dip our toes into it and really get an experience to see what a program looks like, how to residents respond to it and what would the  resources be required if we scaled up to a larger scale," he said.

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