News-Miner opinion: Imagine you are driving down a roadway in Fairbanks, heading to a destination to which you have never been.
Imagine that you are driving a vehicle that doesn’t have a GPS-driven map that tells you where and when to turn.
Imagine you are having to pay too much attention to each street sign as they roll by because you are trying to discern the lettering amid the caked-on snow.
And, finally, imagine you ultimately decide you must have missed a turn and that you will now be late to your appointment.
Snow-covered street signs are a fact of life in Fairbanks, but they don’t have to exist for as long as they seem to. Go out there and knock the snow of your neighborhood signs. Make it easier for people to get around.
Isn’t it someone else’s responsibility to do that, you might ask.
Here’s the answer from city of Fairbanks Communications Director Teal Soden:
“City Public Works does not clear off or remove snow that accumulates on traffic signal arms or street light arms. On occasion during the winter, dependent on staffing and weather conditions, (Public Works) staff is sometimes directed to brush snow off street signs and traffic signs to help the driving public. In-between garbage collection, our permanent laborers prioritize clearing sidewalks, ADA ramps, bridges, and round-about pedestrian pathways.
And here’s the answer from state Department of Transportation Northern Region Information Officer Caitlin Frye:
“We have cleared snow off street signs in the past, but we don’t expect to be able to do much of that with the resources we currently have. It’s pretty low on our priority list. If we were able to get through all our other tasks — this includes cleaning up after storms, hauling snow, winging in preparation for break-up (which is what we’re working on now), and the many other activities we do between storms, we would sweep the signs. It’s just unlikely that we would be able to get to that point.”
We’ve still got several weeks of the snow season left. Although the sun is creeping higher and staying with us longer each day, it’s not strong enough yet to cause the clinging snow to fall from the signs.
So there you have it. Help the city and state departments by smacking your neighborhood street sign with a pole to knock the snow off.
And while you’re at it, make sure your house or building number isn’t obscured by snow. That’s important not only for a guest or customer you might be expecting but also for law enforcement and fire and rescue personnel who might be coming to your aid.