Milwaukee DPW urges residents to clear sidewalks of snow: 'We need to make things as safe'

MILWAUKEE -- When it snows, the Milwaukee Department of Public Works (DPW) has roughly 7,000 miles of road to clear. But one of its biggest problems with snow removal is on the sidewalks.

Safely navigating Milwaukee's streets and crosswalks can be difficult on a good day. But it becomes even more daunting if you are a person with a physical impairment.

"We're pretty courageous, some of us, to go out in the cold," said Troy Hergert. "But when the snow and ice and the snowbanks are there, and we cannot cross streets safely, then we have difficulties.

Hergert is nearly 100 percent blind. With snow-covered sidewalks, he is feeling unsafe.

Troy Hergert

"We're trained how to walk and cross and listen to streets -- street traffic," Hergert said. "But we cannot detect ice until we step on it."

When snow and ice sits in place of clear pavement, it becomes dangerous.

"If those aren't cleared, we either have to climb a mountain of snow or walk into the intersection with the flow of traffic," Hergert said.

That is why the DPW is calling on property owners to get the shovel out.

Jeff Polenske

"It's not just a simple shovel width. It really is the entire sidewalk," said Jeff Polenske, Commissioner of Public Works.

The city is in the process of compiling a list of individuals and groups that would be willing to help those unable to clear a sidewalk.

"We're all in this together," Polenske said.

So if trouble arises in the form of a slippery walkway, people like Hergert are not put in a bad spot.

"We need to make things as safe and convenient for everybody," Hergert said.

The city would like to compile, and make available, a list of organizations that provide snow and ice removal at no or minimal cost for the elderly and persons with disabilities. Such organizations may include church groups, neighborhood associations, Boy or Girl Scout troops, school key clubs, non-profit organizations, etc. Contact the City ADA Coordinator at to have your organization listed on this resource. Provide your organization’s name, contact information, service boundaries, and fee structure if there is a cost.