CHICAGO — While winter doesn't begin for another three weeks from a meteorogical perspective, on Tuesday at 3 a.m., winter officially starts on major streets across the city.
Every December 1st, the Chicago begins its winter overnight parking ban which prohibits parking from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. on 107 miles of what are considered critical arterial streets throughout Chicago. The ban continues until March 31st, even if there isn't any snow on the ground.
The city says the ban is necessary to keep these major thoroughfares clear of cars in order to help in snow removal in case of a surprise major snowstorm, according to Department of Streets and Sanitation spokesperson Jennifer Martinez.
The ban "just helps our crews in their ability to clean up any snow from these crucial routes and help people get to work or school in case there was a big storm," said Martinez.
Drivers who ignore the ban face an expensive and inconvenient Tuesday morning retrieving a vehicle from one of Chicago's auto pounds. It will cost a towed motorist $150 for the tow, a $20 auto pound storage fee and a $60 parking ticket — a total of $230.
Towed vehicles will be brought to either Auto Pound 2 located at 10301 S. Doty Ave. or Auto Pound 2 located at 701 N. Sacramento Ave.
Martinez says crews have been working overnights placing fliers on cars parked on these streets for the past two weeks to remind drivers of the upcoming parking restrictions.
"We want to do our part by fliering cars parked along those streets," says Martinez. "Motorists can do their part by watching signs so they don't get towed. It would be great if we woke up at 3 a.m. and there were no cars to tow."
Despite the fliering and the permanent posted signs, hundreds of cars get towed on the first night of the ban every year.
The past two years both saw 239 vehicles snagged on the first night of the winter ban. According to Streets and Sanitation, a whopping 9,115 vehicles were towed during the four months of last year's winter ban.
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