Monday, December 9, 2013

Norristown In The Snow

First snow of the season. I've been looking at people's photos of N-town. From Coffee Talk on West Marshall, to Jus' Java and Plymouth Produce in the North End, to the Times Herald photos of downtown, Norristown sure looks pretty covered in snow.

But if you have to drive in it, or find parking when it's deep, that's another thing.

How do we measure up compared to surrounding communities? Since I'm a musician, which means doing performances everywhere this time of year, and since, until recently, I commuted to Malvern, I've seen how many of those communities handle snowstorms.

First Upper Merion Township, which I think of as the gold standard. I was over in King of Prussia Saturday and the roads were already treated for the coming storm. Instead of using salt, UM puts down a chemical that sticks to the roads. Not only do they treat main routes, but I've even seen the telltale stripes from this chemical back in the developments. Unless we get deep snow, most of the time after a storm, the streets of Upper Merion are merely wet. If not, they usually plow the main roads fairly quickly. I don't know exactly what chemical they use, how safe it is in the groundwater, how much it costs, etc., but it sure does work well. And where there are hills, I've often seen big cans of cinders set up, in case anyone gets stuck.

Worst streets? The Main Line, pretty much the whole length of Lancaster Avenue from Wynnewood west to Tredyffrin. For all the times I've had to drive those routes in storms, I swear they don't salt or treat the roads in anyway, and I've rarely seen a plow during a storm. Tredyffrin puts down cinders and maybe a minimal amount of salt on their main roads, after they get slick. Even Lancaster Avenue (which I would have assumed was a Penndot route) is often a skating rink.

Norristown at least seems to salt the main streets, like Marshall and Fornance, and the plows are often out during the storms. Dekalb, Main, and I think, one lane of Markley, are Penndot's responsibility, but I've seen Norristown trucks on these routes as well, helping to keep them clear. Fornance was salted yesterday, and Marshall didn't look too bad in the photos. Some of Penndot's routes were bad yesterday--Dekalb didn't look salted, and my brother said the west end of West Main was icy and people were skidding into parked cars.

Our side streets are almost always hazardous during and after storms. I'm only 2 blocks from Markley, but sometimes the side streets are bad enough that I can't get to 202 for a day after a storm. I realized we have a lot of streets and limited resources, and it's only the start of the season, so we need to conserve salt, but it doesn't help our tax situation if people can't get out to work.

I'd give Upper Merion an A+ in snow and ice control. The Main Line gets an F. Norristown? Maybe a C. We could do much better, but we're definitely better off than a lot of communities.

Comment below or on Facebook and tell me what your street's like in the snow and ice.

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