To clear a path for the plows, about 80 tow trucks hit the streets and pull out an average of 1,500 illegally parked vehicles. Some seasons – such as the winter of 2010-2011 which caused eight snow emergencies – can yield more than 10,000 tows.
As you can imagine, none of these tows add seasonal cheer to city employees or residents. To help spread the word and clear the streets, the city now plans to use its existing network of Daktronics dynamic message signs.
“We have so many ways for people to know when we have a snow emergency, and now we have one more: electronic-message signs downtown,” said Mayor R.T. Rybak in a recent Star Tribune post. “The more residents, workers and visitors in Minneapolis are aware of snow emergencies and follow the clear rules, the faster we can plow the streets and make them passable for everyone.”
In a snow emergency, the city publishes announcements on a dedicated Facebook page, Twitter account, text messages, email blasts and website. Minneapolis also operates a hotline that motorists can call to check the status of a snow emergency. Even with all of these communication options, thousands of motorists were still paying nearly $200 to retrieve their cars from the impound lot. The signs allow the city to reinforce the message on the street at no additional cost.
Ever since we manufactured the first set of displays for their downtown network, we’ve watched Minneapolis find a variety of innovative applications. As we showed you before, they’re relying on these displays to organize event traffic, provide parking directions, manage rush-hour traffic and to designate special bus lanes. We’re excited to see them find yet another way to apply this versatile technology.