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This Is Why Chicago Doesn’t Plow Alleys

Chicago's alleys are jammed with more than 3 feet of snow, but plows are not coming to the rescue.

A woman tries to dig her car out of an alley on Feb. 16 in Logan Square after more than a foot of snow fell on the city.
Kelly Bauer/Block Club Chicago

CHICAGO — More than 3 feet of snow has fallen on Chicago in the past three weeks, forcing the city to send every plow, backhoe, salt spreader and dump truck in its fleet to dig out the city’s streets.

But that heavy equipment won’t be going through your snow-packed alley when the streets are cleared.

John Tully, commissioner of the city’s Department of Streets and Sanitation, said the city does not plow alleys because it will damage garages.

“If we start plowing in alleyways, you start collapsing garage doors ’cause there’s nowhere for that snow to go,” Tully said.

Instead, Streets and Sanitation will have garbage trucks “tracking” the alleys, creating paths through the alleys.

They’ll also work to get back on schedule for garbage collecting, including working overtime on Saturday.

Many of the garbage truck drivers are the same people driving plows, so crews have fallen behind during the storm, Tully said.

John Tully, commissioner of the Department of Streets and Sanitation.

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