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Sanitation Comm.: Map Showing No Plowing On UES Was Due To Bad GPS On Salt Truck

Traffic Problems Also Blamed For Delayed Response In Area

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said a map that showed streets going unplowed on the Upper East Side was due to a faulty GPS system on a salt spreader, and traffic problems.

The city’s own map showed no record of plowing on many streets on the Upper East Side – particularly east-west streets from 59th Street to 67th Street east of Lexington Avenue.

The map also showed many primary snow removal routes — including 79th Street between Second and Lexington avenues, 87th Street between Park and Fifth avenues, and several blocks of Madison Avenue between 86th and 93rd streets — had not been plowed in three to six hours.

Earlier, the map appeared to show that streets between 59th and 79th streets and between Second and Fifth avenues had gone unplowed.

“One of the problems was that the salt spreader in that area, the GPS system was not working,” Doherty said at a news conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio Tuesday evening.

Because of that, the snow tracker did not show that the streets had been plowed, he said.

He added that traffic congestion also made plowing streets in the area difficult.

“Traffic also created a big problem for us in that area. I think any of the reporters, or anybody who was in that area this afternoon were reporting, nothing is moving in the area,” Doherty said.

Doherty conceded the traffic problems may have been inevitable due to slippery conditions, but whatever the case, traffic jams affect snow plows too.

“The longer it takes those cars to move, the longer it takes for us to get in there and salt those streets, and that’s what part of the problem was,” he said.

He said many of the streets on the Upper East Side did eventually get plowed.

“We had the salt spreaders, and everything, out there doing everything as quickly as we could,” he said.

De Blasio emphasized at the news conference that plows were out everywhere.

“I want to emphasize that the combination of the intensifying snow and the fact that it is hitting, of course, as most people’s vehicles have been on the streets, is a tough combination,” de Blasio said. “Sanitation is responding with everything they’ve got.”

But one resident told CBSNewYork.com the lack of plowing was not just a mistake on the map. Jennifer Ratner, who lives near 86th Street and York Avenue, said she had not seen a snow plow on her block all day.

“It looked like when I went to the window was finally coming on my block, and when I went to the window, it was my doorman or somebody from the block with some kind of a portable plow,” she said.

Ratner said the sound of plows can usually be heard every couple of hours during a snowstorm.

“I happen to have been home for a couple hours, and I didn’t hear it at all,” she said.

Complaints about unplowed streets mounted in many areas of the city Tuesday night, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported.

“Mayor If you’re listening, please plow these streets,” said Sonny Budharaja of Harlem.

Budharaja said he drove for three hours around Manhattan Tuesday, stuck in gridlock and navigating through snow filled streets.

CBS 2 found an inch or more of untouched snow on avenues, and snowpack coating several side streets.

“None of the streets have been plowed, like, no matter which way you go, it’s like this everywhere,” he said. “I guess the mayor is focusing more on other boroughs like last time.”

He said he had never seen worse conditions.

“I’ve never seen anything like this. This is the first time,” he said. “I’ve been living in New York City for 30 years. This is horrendous.”

And a New York Post report Tuesday evening quoted some residents of the affluent Upper East Side, who accused de Blasio of ignoring them in an effort to “get us back.”

Another resident speaking to the newspaper accused de Blasio of “trying to hurt the more wealthy people by ignoring us,” while another called the mayor “crazy” and said “we need Mayor Bloomberg back.”

Ratner did not share the position that the lack of plowing had anything to do with the mayor.

“I wouldn’t guess that de Blasio would be doing something personal,” she said, noting that she had made a point of going to meet the mayor at a pre-inaugural party at the Gracie Mansion. “I think he would be above anything like that.”

The city was expected to get an estimated 12 inches of snow in the Tuesday storm.

CBS New York Web Producer Adam Harrington contributed to this report.

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