How important is alternate-side parking during a winter storm?

EAU CLAIRE, Wis, (WEAU) -- With the arrival of snow this past weekend, the start of winter shows no sign of slowing down, so the City of Eau Claire’s street crews are hitting the roads.

A City of Eau Claire snow plow heads south on Hastings Way on Thursday, after several inches of snow fell on the city.

When severe winter weather takes over city roadways the City of Eau Claire street division comes in to clear out. But before that can happen, it's up to area drivers to follow the rules when alternate-side parking goes into effect: parking on the odd side of the road on odd-numbered days and the even side of the road on even-numbered days.

The first round of alternate-side parking of the season was declared last week.

“The department did write a lot of tickets over the 72 hour period for people parked on the wrong side of the street,” says Steven Thompson, Street Maintenance Manager for the City of Eau Claire.

One of the plows Thompson showed WEAU 13 News’ Brooke Schwieters Thursday afternoon was 18 feet wide including the plows wing. The widest in the city’s fleet is 19 feet.

So physically how important is alternate side parking? Brooke took to one of Eau Claire notoriously tight streets to measure it out.

She found that the space between two parked cars on either side of the street left only 17 ½ feet.

“The more cars we've got to work around, the longer it'll take to get the streets plowed,” says Thompson.

Brooke found that if you remove the car on the left, it adds another 5 feet, leaving about 22 ½ feet, leaving just enough room for now only the plows, but emergency vehicles too.

Thompson adds complying to the alternate-side parking is not just about avoiding a ticket, but helping avoid potential disasters.