Hundreds of Vehicles Towed from Snow Emergency Routes This Winter

Hundreds of cars and trucks were towed from parking spots along some of Philadelphia’s busiest streets this winter after the thoroughfares were converted into snow emergency routes.

But what’s the point of these routes?

Clearing the way for emergency crews to traverse, as quickly as possible, the city during storms says the Philadelphia Streets Department.

“They are primarily arterial roads that carry high vehicular volume and need to remain passable for emergency response purposes,” said Streets Commissioner David Perri. “They typically serve hospitals, police and fire stations and universities.”

Across the city, 110 miles of road along 53 arteries – including Broad Street, Allegheny Avenue and the Roosevelt Boulevard – are designated as snow emergency routes. Here's a map.

Officials say city administration chooses the routes and that they’re only changed to accommodate added volume or the building of new institutions – which is rare. Two avenues, Bustleton and Germantown, were last added to the list back in 2010.

Towing comes into play when the mayor declares a snow emergency. The routes become no parking zones and those who don’t move by the time the emergency goes into effect have their car relocated.

Marty O’Rourke, spokesman for the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA), says their parking enforcement officers work with Philadelphia Police to move the vehicles to non-snow emergency routes and ticket the owners.

“[Vehicle owners] are issued two tickets. One ticket for $51 for failure to remove their vehicle from a snow emergency route during a snow emergency and another $76 relocation ticket,” he said.

The PPA towed 653 vehicles from snow emergency routes over the course of this winter -- 128 of them from Monday's storm, O'Rourke said. At $127 a tow, that amounts to $82,931 in fines this winter.

If you walk up on your car being towed, O’Rourke said the PPA will release the car back to you, but you’ll still have to pay the ticket.

As for finding your relocated car, O’Rourke says they can 215.686.SNOW to get the location.

Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter.

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