The city of Cleveland is currently facing a $735,000 fine from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for failing to clear the snow off the runways of Ohio’s major airport over the past two years.
According to reports from CNN and USA Today, the state “failed on numerous occasions” to plow snow and ice off the runways and taxiways at the Hopkins International Airport.
The FAA stated that it has been investigating the Hopkins Airport for this violation, through multiple separate investigations, dating back to 2013. One of the first incidents in 2013, CNN reported, involved an airport safety vehicle sliding over an ice-covered taxiway and onto an active runway where a plane had just taken off.
This past March, the ice was so bad on Hopkins’ runways that one aircraft was unable to leave its runway on time, causing another aircraft to re-route its takeoff path and a third aircraft to have its departure cancelled altogether.
According to the FAA, several other incidents have occurred at the Hopkins Airport due to inadequate snow and ice removal.
Currently, there are no proposed explanations for why Cleveland failed to clear its runways; considering the severity of winter storms in the past two years, it seems possible that city ran out of funds to operate multiple heavy duty snow plows and to spread salt on the pavement.
“There could be a number of reasons why a city didn’t plow or forgot to plow these areas; inadequate funds due to incorrectly forecasting the snow removal budget, availability of salt, scheduling problems, overworked staff or they could have been understaffed,” says Jered Shuknecht, Marketing Manager, Pro-Tech. “A great example is last year’s winter where many municipalities had completely spent their budget well before the season was over, such as the Buffalo, NY area in November of 2014. Twelve feet of snow fell within a matter of hours stranding people in their houses and on highways. It took crews days to clear the snow and unfortunately a few people lost their lives. During the winter months snow and ice management professionals make winter travel possible, it’s their responsibility. ”
Cleveland officials have just under 30 days to answer the FAA’s accusations and present a rebuttal for the proposed fine.
The Hopkins Airport is currently the 40th largest airport in the country and serves around 9 million passengers annually.